QUALIA LXXXIV: That We Might All Constantly Live the Peace and Joys of the Holiday Season and FAMILY! From the QUFD website, at: http://go.to/QUF D

QUALIA LXXXIV: That We Might All Constantly Live the Peace and Joys of the Holiday Season and FAMILY!

Exploring QUFD Principles,
from the QUFD website,
at: http://go.to/QUFD

By Father Jerome

  1. Harken Back/Forward with me, to a Different Time and Place, of an entire World-Society of Peace, Love, Joy and Happiness...

  2. Where the 'Sounds-of-the-Season' were reflected in both Poetry and Musical 'Tradition'...

  3. I had thought of starting this missive with John Greenleaf Whittier's famous Poem-of-the-Season, "Snow Bound"...

  4. "The sun that brief December day, rose cheerless o'er hills of gray..."

  5. That Tale of a Family 'snowed-in' literally, not only reflected the circumstances and environment of a Time and Place where 'Family' was the Most Important Aspect-of-Life...

  6. The entire Poem is so Beautiful and Inspirational, that it was always Read (by the Family Patriarch) to the entire Gathered-Family-'Round-the-Thanksgiving-Table...

  7. However, as I said, of equal significance, were the Sounds-of-Music-of-the-Season, and one of my favorites, was always the following, which surely evinces the Sounds and Memories of 'Riding-a-Horse-Drawn-Sleigh-to-Grandfather's-House-for-Thanksgiving-Day':
  8. "Over the river and thru the wood,
    To grandfather's house we go;
    The horse knows the way
    To carry the sleigh,
    Thru the white and drifted snow, Oh!
    Over the river and thru the wood,
    Oh, how the wind does blow!
    It stings the toes,
    And bites the nose,
    As over the ground we go.

    Over the river and thru the wood,
    To have a first-rate play;
    Oh, hear the bell ring,
    Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day-ay!
    Over the river and thru the wood,
    Trot fast my dapple gray!
    Spring over the ground,
    Like a hunting hound!
    For this is Thanksgiving Day."

  9. As to the other Aspects, of a Time and Place that was/is/shall be, More Than Wonderful...

  10. Ah, I Remember, that each and every Human Being, of such Wonderful Worldwide Society, was truly able to 'Fully-Actualize-Themselves', and to Be-That-Which-They-Had-Been-Born-To-Be, all because Society did Make-Available-Unto-Each-Individual-Human-Being, the entire, full-and-complete Resources of our entire World, of both Human and Natural 'creation'!

  11. Of course, all of this was the Result of a Worldwide Participatory Democracy, of One Worldwide Government, 'Of The People, By The People, and For The People', where there were no wars, no conflicts, no animosities, no divisiveness, no adversarial and dysfunctional relationships, no competition, and nothing other than Cooperation, Respect, Acceptance and 'Love Unto All', For and Unto All of Society! Where each and every Individual Human Being was Completely Responsible for each and every Word, Action and Deed of themselves! (Contrary to today, in which no Person-of-Society has any 'Responsibility' whatsoever, for their Words, Actions and Deeds, because we have ceded all 'Responsibility' to our 'Third-Party-Agents-of-Responsibility', i.e., our Politicians and the Economic 'mechanisms' of that Greatest 'Third-Party-Agent' of all... Money!) Oh, Woe were those 'Olden-Days', of 'Representative Democracy', and of the Corruption-of-any-and-all Third-Party-Agents-of-'Responsibility' and of the Perils of Trying to Find an Honest and Equitable 'Common-Ground' with 'Adversaries' who were Cooperating-Only-Because-Circumstances-Have-Forced-Them-To-Do-So, guaranteeing-of-course, that such 'Common-Ground' as might-be-found, would surely be detrimental not only to Humanity and to Society, but also to Individuals and the 'Common Weal', as well as to the entire Resources of our World!

  12. But, of course, Mankind was finally and Peacefully able to Resolve such disparities and afflictions-of-the-Human-Spirit, in Achieving a Peaceful, Worldwide Participatory Democracy, by completely eliminating all Money and Financial Economic 'considerations', and instead Instituting a worldwide Economy based entirely upon the Freely-Given-Abilities-and-Resources of every and all Individuals everywhere! How Beautiful, it Turned Out To Be, that Each and Every Individual, upon their Birth and the-Living-of-their-Life, could Be Assured that they, as an Individual, were Loved by One and All, and that All of Society Cared Enough, to Make The Entire Resources-of-Our-Entire-World, Completely and Undeniably Available, to Every Individual Everywhere! And this was All Accomplished without denigrating the 'Humanity' of anyone anywhere! To the Extent, that Each and Every Human Being has thusly Become Able to Live a Rich and Full Life, enjoying All of the 'Amenities' of a Nominally-Upper-Class Person, however no longer Of-Any-Class whatsoever, but now Everyone equally Enjoying-The-Full-Resources-of-Our-World Equitably! Where Women are Women, and Men are Men (and any other 'Genders' whatever they might be!), and Government and Society provide the Full-Resources of the entire World, to ensure that Each-Individual-Does-Become-That-Unique-And-Exceptional-Person-That-They-Were-Born-To-Be!

  13. Ah, that We Might Return/Go Forward, Unto Such a Wonderful Time and Place!

    Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyll
    by John Greenleaf Whittier

    The sun that brief December day
    Rose cheerless over hills of gray,
    And, darkly circled, gave at noon
    A sadder light than waning moon.
    Slow tracing down the thickening sky
    Its mute and ominous prophecy,
    A portent seeming less than threat,
    It sank from sight before it set.
    A chill no coat, however stout,
    Of homespun stuff could quite shut out,
    A hard, dull bitterness of cold,
    That checked, mid-vein, the circling race
    Of life-blood in the sharpened face,
    The coming of the snow-storm told.
    The wind blew east; we heard the roar
    Of Ocean on his wintry shore,
    And felt the strong pulse throbbing there
    Beat with low rhythm our inland air.
    Meanwhile we did our nightly chores,
    Brought in the wood from out the doors,
    Littered the stalls, and from the mows
    Raked down the herd's-grass for the cows;
    Heard the horse whinnying for his corn;
    And, sharply clashing horn on horn,
    Impatient down the stanchion rows
    The cattle shake their walnut bows;
    While, peering from his early perch
    Upon the scaffold's pole of birch,
    The cock his crested helmet bent
    And down his querulous challenge sent

    Unwarmed by any sunset light
    The gray day darkened into night,
    A night made hoary with the swarm
    And whirl-dance of the blinding storm,
    As zigzag, wavering to and fro,
    Crossed and recrossed the wing‰d snow:
    And ere the early bedtime came
    The white drift piled the window-frame,
    And through the glass the clothes-line posts
    Looked in like tall and sheeted ghosts.
    The old familiar sights of ours
    Took marvellous shapes; strange domes and towers
    Rose up where sty or corn-crib stood,
    Or garden-wall, or belt of wood;
    A smooth white mound the brush-pile showed,
    A fenceless drift what once was road;
    The bridle-post an old man sat
    With loose-flung coat and high cocked hat;
    The well-curb had a Chinese roof;
    And even the long sweep, high aloof,
    In its slant spendor, seemed to tell
    Of Pisa's leaning miracle.

    A prompt, decisive man, no breath
    Our father wasted: "Boys, a path!"
    Well pleased (for when did farmer boy
    Count such a summons less than joy?)
    Our buskins on our feet we drew;
    With mittened hands, and caps drawn low,
    To guard our necks and ears from snow,
    We cut the solid whiteness through.
    And, where the drift was deepest, made
    A tunnel walled and overlaid
    With dazzling crystal: we had read
    Of rare Aladdin's wondrous cave,
    And to our own his name we gave,
    With many a wish the luck were ours
    To test his lamp's supernal powers.
    We reached the barn with merry din,
    And roused the prisoned brutes within.
    The old horse thrust his long head out,
    And grave with wonder gazed about;
    The cock his lusty greeting said,
    And forth his speckled harem led;
    The oxen lashed their tails, and hooked,
    And mild reproach of hunger looked;
    The horn‰d patriarch of the sheep,
    Like Egypt's Amun roused from sleep,
    Shook his sage head with gesture mute,
    And emphasized with stamp of foot.

    All day the gusty north-wind bore
    The loosening drift its breath before;
    Low circling round its southern zone,
    The sun through dazzling snow-mist shone.
    No church-bell lent its Christian tone
    To the savage air, no social smoke
    Curled over woods of snow-hung oak.
    A solitude made more intense
    By dreary-voic‰d elements,
    The shrieking of the mindless wind,
    The moaning tree-boughs swaying blind,
    And on the glass the unmeaning beat
    Of ghostly finger-tips of sleet.
    Beyond the circle of our hearth
    No welcome sound of toil or mirth
    Unbound the spell, and testified
    Of human life and thought outside.
    We minded that the sharpest ear
    The buried brooklet could not hear,
    The music of whose liquid lip
    Had been to us companionship,
    And, in our lonely life, had grown
    To have an almost human tone.

    As night drew on, and, from the crest
    Of wooded knolls that ridged the west,
    The sun, a snow-blown traveller, sank
    From sight beneath the smothering bank,
    We piled, with care, our nightly stack
    Of wood against the chimney-back, -
    The oaken log, green, huge, and thick,
    And on its top the stout back-stick;
    The knotty forestick laid apart,
    And filled between with curious art
    The ragged brush; then, hovering near,
    We watched the first red blaze appear,
    Heard the sharp crackle, caught the gleam
    On whitewashed wall and sagging beam,
    Until the old, rude-furnished room
    Burst, flower-like, into rosy bloom;
    While radiant with a mimic flame
    Outside the sparkling drift became,
    And through the bare-boughed lilac-tree
    Our own warm hearth seemed blazing free.
    The crane and pendent trammels showed,
    The Turks' heads on the andirons glowed;
    While childish fancy, prompt to tell
    The meaning of the miracle,
    Whispered the old rhyme: "Under the tree,
    When fire outdoors burns merrily,
    There the witches are making tea."

    The moon above the eastern wood
    Shone at its full; the hill-range stood
    Transfigured in the silver flood,
    Its blown snows flashing cold and keen,
    Dead white, save where some sharp ravine
    Took shadow, or the sombre green
    Of hemlocks turned to pitchy black
    Against the whiteness at their back.
    For such a world and such a night
    Most fitting that unwarming light,
    Which only seemd where'er it fell
    To make the coldness visible.

    Shut in from all the world without,
    We sat the clean-winged hearth about,
    Content to let the north-wind roar
    In baffled rage at pane and door,
    While the red logs before us beat
    The frost-line back with tropic heat;
    And ever, when a louder blast
    Shook beam and rafter as it passed,
    The merrier up its roaring draught
    The great throat of the chimney laughed;
    The house-dog on his paws outspread
    Laid to the fire his drowsy head,
    The cat's dark silhouette on the wall
    A couchant tiger's seemed to fall;
    And, for the winter fireside meet,
    Between the andirons' straddling feet,
    The mug of cider simmered slow,
    The apples sputtered in a row,
    And, close at hand, the basket stood
    With nuts from brown October's wood.

    What matter how the night behaved?
    What matter how the north-wind raved?
    Blow high, blow low, not all its snow
    Could quench our hearth-fire's ruddy glow.
    O Time and Change! - with hair as gray
    As was my sire's that winter day,
    How strange it seems with so much gone,
    Of life and love, to still live on!
    Ah, brother! only I and thou
    Are left of all that circle now, -
    The dear home faces whereupon
    That fitful firelight paled and shone.
    Henceforward, listen as we will,
    The voices of that hearth are still;
    Look where we may, the wide earth o'er,
    Those lighted faces smile no more.
    We tread the paths their feet have worn,
    We sit beneath their orchard trees,
    We hear, like them, the hum of bees
    And rustle of the bladed corn;
    We turn the pages that they read,
    Their written words we linger o'er.
    But in the sun they cast no shade,
    No voice is heard, no sign is made,
    No step is on the conscious floor!
    Yet love will dream, and Faith will trust
    (Since He who knows our need is just),
    That somehow, somewhere, meet we must.
    Alas for him who never sees
    The stars shine through his cypress-trees!
    Who, hopeless, lays his dead away,
    Nor looks to see the breaking day
    Across the mournful marbles play!
    Who hath not learned, in hours of faith,
    The truth to flesh and sense unknown,
    That Life is ever lord of Death,
    And Love can never lose its own!

    We sped the time with stories old,
    Wrought puzzles out, and riddles told,
    Or stammered from our school-book lore
    "The Chief of Gambia's golden shore."
    How often since, when all the land
    Was clay in Slavery's shaping hand,
    As if a far-blown trumpet stirred
    The languorous sin-sick air, I heard:
    "Does not the voice of reason cry,
    Claim the first right which Nature gave,
    From the red scourge of bondage to fly,
    Nor deign to live a burdened slave!"

    Our father rode again his ride
    On Memphremagog's wooded side;
    Sat down again to moose and samp
    In trapper's hut and Indian camp;
    Lived o'er the old idyllic ease
    Beneath St. Fran‡ois' hemlock-trees;
    Again for him the moonlight shone
    On Norman cap and bodiced zone;
    Again he heard the violin play
    Which led the village dance away,
    And mingled in its merry whirl
    The grandam and the laughing girl.
    Or, nearer home, our steps he led
    Where Salisbury's level marshes spread
    Mile-wide as flied the laden bee;
    Where merry mowers, hale and strong,
    Swept, scythe on scythe, their swaths along
    The low green prairies of the sea.
    We shared the fishing off Boar's Head,
    And round the rocky Isles of Shoals
    The hake-broil on the drift-wood coals;
    The chowder on the sand-beach made,
    Dipped by the hungry, steaming hot,
    With spoons of clam-shell from the pot.
    We heard the tales of witchcraft old,
    And dream and sign and marvel told
    To sleepy listeners as they lay
    Stretched idly on the salted hay,
    Adrift along the winding shores,
    When favoring breezes deigned to blow
    The square sail of the gundelow
    And idle lay the useless oars.

    Our mother, while she turned her wheel
    Or run the new-knit stocking-heel,
    Told how the Indian hordes came down
    At midnight on Concheco town,
    And how her own great-uncle bore
    His cruel scalp-mark to fourscore.
    Recalling, in her fitting phrase,
    So rich and picturesque and free
    (The common unrhymed poetry
    Of simple life and country ways),
    The story of her early days, -
    She made us welcome to her home;
    Old hearths grew wide to give us room;
    We stole with her a frightened look
    At the gray wizard's conjuring-book,
    The fame whereof went far and wide
    Through all the simple country side;
    We heard the hawks at twilight play,
    The boat-horn on Piscataqua,
    The loon's weird laughter far away;
    We fished her little trout-brook, knew
    What flowers in wood and meadow grew,
    What sunny hillsides autumn-brown
    She climbed to shake the ripe nuts down,
    Saw where in sheltered cove and bay,
    The ducks' black squadron anchored lay,
    And heard the wild-geese calling loud
    Beneath the gray November cloud.
    Then, haply, with a look more grave,
    And soberer tone, some tale she gave
    From painful Sewel's ancient tome,
    Beloved in every Quaker home,
    Of faith fire-winged by martyrdom,
    Or Chalkley's Journal, old and quaint, -
    Gentlest of skippers, rare sea-saint! -
    Who, when the dreary calms prevailed,
    And water-butt and bread-cask failed,
    And cruel, hungry eyes pursued
    His portly presence, mad for food,
    With dark hints muttered under breath
    Of casting lots for life or death,
    Offered, if Heaven withheld supplies,
    To be himself the sacrifice.
    Then, suddenly, as if to save
    The good man from his living grave,
    A ripple on the water grew,
    A school of porpoise flashed in view.
    "Take, eat," he said, "and be content;
    These fishes in my stead are sent
    By Him who gave the tangled ram
    To spare the child of Abraham."

    Our uncle, innocent of books,
    Was rich in lore of fields and brooks,
    The ancient teachers never dumb
    Of Nature's unhoused lyceum.
    In moons and tides and weather wise,
    He read the clouds as prophecies,
    And foul or fair could well divine,
    By many an occult hint and sign,
    Holding the cunning-warded keys
    To all the woodcraft mysteries;
    Himself to Nature's heart so near
    That all her voices in his ear
    Of beast or bird had meanings clear,
    Like Apollonius of old,
    Who knew the tales the sparrows told,
    Or Hermes, who interpreted
    What the sage cranes of Nilus said;
    A simple, guileless, childlike man,
    Content to live where life began;
    Strong only on his native grounds,
    The little world of sights and sounds
    Whose girdle was the parish bounds,
    Whereof his fondly partial pride
    The common features magnified,
    As Surrey hills to mountains grew
    In White of Selborne's loving view, -
    He told how teal and loon he shot,
    And how the eagle's eggs he got,
    The feats on pond and river done,
    The prodigies of rod and gun;
    Till, warming with the tales he told,
    Forgotten was the outside cold,
    The bitter wind unheeded blew,
    From ripening corn the pigeons flew,
    The partridge drummed i' the wood, the mink
    Went fishing down the river-brink.
    The woodchuck, like a hermit gray,
    Peered from the doorway of his cell;
    The muskrat plied the mason's trade,
    And tier by tier his mud-walls laid;
    And from the shagbark overhead
    The grizzled squirrel dropped his shell.

    Next, the dear aunt, whose smile of cheer
    And voice in dreams I see and hear, -
    The sweetest woman ever Fate
    Perverse denied a household mate,
    Who, lonely, homeless, not the less
    Found peace in love's unselfishness,
    And welcome wheresoe'er she went,
    A calm and gracious element,
    Whose presence seemed the sweet income
    And womanly atmosphere of home, -
    Called up her girlhood memories,
    The huskings and the apple-bees,
    The sleigh-rides and the summer sails,
    Weaving through all the poor details
    And homespun warp of circumstance
    A golden woof-thread of romance.
    For well she kept her genial mood
    And simple faith of maidenhood;
    Before her still a cloud-land lay,
    The mirage loomed across her way;
    The morning dew, that dries so soon
    With others, glistened at her noon;
    Through years of toil and soil and care,
    From glossy tress to thin gray hair,
    All unprofaned she held apart
    The virgin fancies of the heart.
    Be shame to him of woman born
    Who hath for such but thought of scorn.

    There, too, our elder sister plied
    Her evening task the stand beside;
    A full, rich nature, free to trust,
    Truthful and almost sternly just,
    Impulsive, earnest, prompt to act,
    And make her generous thought a fact,
    Keeping with many a light disguise
    The secret of self-sacrifice.
    O heart sore-tried! thou hast the best
    That Heaven itself coud give thee, - rest,
    Rest from all bitter thoughts and things!
    How many a poor one's blessing went
    With thee beneath the low green tent
    Whose curtain never outward swings!

    As one who held herself a part
    Of all she saw, and let her heart
    Against the household bosom lean,
    Upon the motley-braided mat
    Our yougest and our dearest sat,
    Lifting her large, sweet, asking eyes,
    Now bathed in the unfading green
    And holy peace of Paradise.
    Oh, looking from some heavenly hill,
    Or from the shade of saintly palms,
    Or silver reach of river calms,
    Do those large eyes behold me still?
    With me one little year ago: -
    The chill weight of the winter snow
    For months upon her grave has lain;
    And now, when summer south-winds blow
    And brier and harebell bloom again,
    I tread the pleasant paths we trod,
    I see the violet-sprinkled sod
    Whereon she leaned, too frail and weak
    The hillside flowers she loved to seek,
    Yet following me where'er I went
    With dark eyes full of love's content.
    The birds are glad; the brier-rose fills
    The air with sweetness; all the hills
    Stretch green to June's unclouded sky;
    But still I wait with ear and eye,
    For something gone which should be nigh,
    A loss in all familiar things,
    In flower that blooms, and bird that sings.
    And yet, dear heart! remembering thee,
    Am I not richer than of old?
    Safe in thy immortality,
    What change can reach the wealth I hold?
    What chnce can mar the pearl and gold
    Thy love hath left in trust with me?
    And while in late life's late afternoon,
    Where cool and long the shadows grow,
    I walk to meet the night that soon
    Shall shape and shadow overflow,
    I cannot feel that thou art far,
    Since near at need the angels are;
    And when the sunset gates unbar,
    Shall I not see thee waiting stand,
    And, white against the evening star,
    The welcome of thy beckoning hand?

    Brisk wielder of the birch and rule,
    The master of the local school
    Held at the fire his favored place,
    Its warm glow lit a laughing face
    Fresh-hued and fair, where scarce appeared
    The uncertain prophecy of beard.
    He teased the mitten-blinded cat,
    Played cross-pins on my uncle's hat,
    Sang songs, and told us what befalls
    In classic Dartmouth's college halls.
    Born the wild Northern hills among,
    From whence his yeoman father wrung
    By patient toil subsistence scant,
    Not competence and yet not want,
    He early gained the power to pay
    His cheerful, self-reliant way;
    Could doff at ease his scholar's gown
    To peddle wares from town to town;
    Or through the long vacation's reach
    In lonely lowland districts teach,
    Where all the droll experience found
    At stranger hearths in boarding round,
    The moonlit skater's keen delight,
    The sleigh-drive through the frosty night,
    The rustic party, with its rough
    Accompaniment of blind-man's-buff,
    And whirling-plate, and forfeits paid,
    His winter task a pastime made.
    Happy the snow-locked homes wherein
    He tuned his merry violin,
    Or played the athlete in the barn,
    Or held the good dame's winding-yarn,
    Or mirth-provoking versions told
    Of classic legends rare and old,
    Wherein the scenes of Greece and Rome
    Had all the commonplace of home,
    And little seemed at best the odds
    'Twixt Yankee pedlers and old gods;
    Where Pindus-born Arachthus took
    The guise of any grist-mill brook,
    And dread Olympus at his will
    Became a huckleberry hill.
    A careless boy that night he seemed;
    But at his desk he had the look
    And air of one who wisely schemed,
    And hostage from the future took
    In train‰d thought and lore of book.
    Large-brained, clear-eyed, of such as he
    Shall Freedom's young apostles be,
    Who, following in War's bloody trail,
    Shall every lingering wrong assail;
    All chains from limb and spirit strike,
    Uplift the black and white alike;
    Scatter before their swift advance
    The darkness and the ignorance,
    The pride, the lust, the squalid sloth,
    Which nurtured Treason's monstrous growth,
    Made murder pastime, and the hell
    Of prison-torture possible;
    The cruel lie of caste refute,
    Old forms remould, and substitute
    For Slavery's lash the freeman's will,
    For blind routine, wise-handed skill;
    A school-house plant on every hill,
    Stretching in radiate nerve-lines thence
    The quick wires of intelligence;
    Till North and South together brought
    Shall own the same electric thought,
    In peace a common flag salute,
    And, side by side in labor's free
    And unresentful revalry,
    Harvest the fields wherein they fought.

    Another guest that winter night
    Flashed back from lustrous eyes the light.
    Unmarked by time, and yet not young,
    The honeyed music of her tongue
    And words of meekness scarcely told
    A nature passionate and bold,
    Strong, self-concentred, spurning guide,
    Its milder features dwarded beside
    Her unbent will's majestic pride.
    She sat among us, at the test,
    A not unfeared, half-welcome guest,
    Rebuking with her cultured phrase
    Our homeliness of words and ways.
    A certain pard-like, treacherous grace
    Swayed the lithe limbs and dropped the lash,
    Lent the white teeth their dazzling flash;
    And under low brows, black with night,
    Rayed out at times a dangerous light;
    The sharp heat-lightnings of her face
    Presaging ill to him whom Fate
    Condemned to share her love or hate.
    A woman tropical, intense
    In thought and act, in soul and sense,
    She blended in a like degree
    The vixen and the devotee,
    Revealing with each freak of feint
    The temper of Petruchio's Kate,
    The raptures of Siena's saint.
    Her tapering hand and rounded wrist
    Had facile power to form a fist;
    The warm, dark languish of her eyes
    Was never safe from wrath's surprise.
    Brows saintly calm and lips devout
    Knew every change of scowl and pout;
    And the sweet voice had notes more high
    And shrill for social battle-cry.

    Since then what old cathedral town
    Has missed her pilgrim staff and gown,
    What convent-gate has held its lock
    Against the challenge of her knock!
    Through Smyrna's plague-hushed thoroughfares,
    Up sea-set Malta's rocky stair,
    Gray olive slopes of hills that hem
    Thy tombs and shrines, Jerusalem,
    Or startling on her desert throne
    The crazy Queen of Lebanon
    With claims fantastic as her own,
    Her tireless feet have held their way;
    And still, unrestful. bowed, and gray,
    She watches under Eastern skies,
    With hope each day renewed and fresh,
    The Lord's quick coming in the flesh,
    Whereof she dreams and prophecies!
    Where'er her troubled path may be,
    The Lord's sweet pity with her go!
    The outward wayward life we see,
    The hidden springs we may not know.
    Nor is it given us to discern
    What threads the fatal sisters spun,
    Through what ancestral years has run
    The sorrow with the woman born,
    What forged her cruel chain of moods,
    What set her feet in solitudes,
    And held the love within her mute,
    What mingled madness in the blood
    A life-long discord and annoy,
    Water of tears with oil of joy,
    And hid within the folded bud
    Peversities of flower and fruit.
    It is not ours to separate
    The tangled skien of will and fate,
    To show what metes and bounds should stand
    Upon the soul's debatable land,
    And between choice and Providence
    Divide the circle of events;
    But He who knows our frame is just,
    Merciful and compassionate,
    And full of sweet assurances
    And hope for all the language is,
    That He remembereth we are dust!

    At last the great logs, crumbling low,
    Sent out a dull and duller glow,
    The bull's-eye watch that hung in view,
    Ticking its weary circuit through,
    Pointed with mutely warning sign
    Its black hand to the hour of nine.
    That sign the pleasant circle broke:
    My uncle ceased his pipe to smoke,
    Knocked from its bowl the refuse gray
    And laid it tenderly away;
    Then roused himself to safely cover
    The dull red brands with ashes over,
    And while, with care, our mother laid
    The work aside, her steps she stayed
    One moment, seeking to express
    Her grateful sense of happiness
    For food and shelter, warmth and health,
    And love's contentment more than wealth,
    With simple wishes (not the weak,
    Vain prayers which no fulfilment seek,
    But such as warm the generous heart,
    O'er-prompt to do with Heaven its part)
    That none might lack, that bitter night,
    For bread and clothing, warmth and light.

    Within our beds awhile we heard
    The wind that round the gables roared,
    With now and then a ruder shock,
    Which made our very bedsteads rock.
    We heard the loosened clapboards tossed,
    The board-nails snapping in the frost;
    And on us, through the unplastered wall,
    Felt the light sifted snow-flakes fall.
    But sleep stole on, as sleep will do
    When hearts are light and life is new;
    Faint and more faint the murmurs grew,
    Till in the summer-land of dreams
    They softened to the sound of streams,
    Low stir of leaves, and dip of oars,
    And lapsing waves on quiet shores.

    Next morn we wakened with the shout
    Of merry voices high and clear;
    And saw the teamsters drawing near
    To break the drifted highways out.
    Down the long hillside treading slow
    We saw the half-buried oxen go,
    Shaking the snow from heads uptossed,
    Their straining nostrils white with frost.
    Before our door the stragglins train
    Drew up, an added team to gain.
    The elders threshed their hands a-cold,
    Passed, with the cider-mug, their jokes
    From lip to lip; the younger folks
    Down the loose snow-banks, wrestling rolled,
    Then toiled again the cavalcade
    O'er windy hill, through clogged ravine,
    And woodland paths that wound between
    Low drooping pine-boughs winter-weighed.
    From every barn a team afoot,
    At every house a new recruit,
    Where, drawn by Nature's subtlest law,
    Haply the watchful young men saw
    Sweet doorway pictures of the curls
    And curious eyes of merry girls,
    Lifting their hands in mock defence
    Against the snow-ball's compliments,
    And reading in each missive tossed
    The charm with Eden never lost.
    We heard once more the sleigh-bells' sound;
    And, following where the teamsters led,
    The wise old Doctor went his round,
    Just pausing at our door to say,
    In the brief autocratic way
    Of one who, prompt at Duty's call
    Was free to urge her claim on all,
    That some poor neighbor sick abed
    At night our mother's aid would need.
    For, one in generous thought and deed
    What mattered in the sufferer's sight
    The Quaker matron's inward light,
    The Doctor's mail of Calvin's creed?
    All hearts confess the saints elect
    Who, twain in faith, in love agree,
    And melt not in an acid sect
    The Christian pearl of charity!

    So days went on: a week had passed
    Since the great world was heard from last.
    The Almanac we studied o'er,
    Read and reread our little store
    Of books and pamphlets, scarce a score;
    One harmless novel, mostly hid
    From younger eyes, a book forbid,
    And poetry (or good or bad,
    A single book was all we had),
    Where Ellwood's meek, drab-skirted Muse,
    A stranger to the heathen Nine,
    Sang, with a somewhat nasal whine,
    The wars of David and the Jews.
    At last the flourndering carrier bore
    The village paper to our door.
    Lo! broadening outward as we read,
    To warmer zones the horizon spread;
    In panoramic length unrolled
    We saw the marvels that it told.
    Before us passed the painted Creeks,
    And daft McGregor on his raids
    In Costa Rica's everglades.
    And up Taygetos winding slow
    Rode Ypsilanti's Mainote Greeks,
    A Turk's head at each saddle-bow!
    Welcome to us its week-old news,
    Its corner for the rustic Muse
    Its monthly gauge of snow and rain,
    Its record, mingling in a breath
    The wedding bell and dirge of death:
    Jest, anecdote, and love-lorn tale,
    The latest culprit sent to jail;
    Its hue and cry of stolen and lost,
    Its vendue sales and goods at cost,
    And traffic calling loud for gain.
    We felt the stir of hall and street,
    The pulse of life that round us beat;
    The chill embargo of the snow
    Was melted in the genial glow;
    Wide swung again our ice-locked door,
    And all the world was ours once more!

    Clasp, Angel of the backward look
    And folded wings of ashen gray
    And voice of echoes far away,
    The brazen covers of thy book;
    The weird palimpsest old and vast,
    Wherein thou hid'st the spectral past;
    Where, closely mingling, pale and glow
    The characters of joy and woe;
    The monographs of outlived years,
    Or smile-illumed or dim with tears,
    Green hills of life that slope to death,
    And haunts of home, whose vistaed trees
    Shade off to mournful cypresses,
    With the white amaranths underneath.
    Even while I look, I can but heed
    The restless sands' incessant fall,
    Importunate hours that hours succeed
    Each clamorous with its own sharp need,
    And duty keeping pace with all.
    Shut down and clasp with heavy lids;
    I hear again the voice that bids
    The dreamer leave his dream midway
    For larger hopes and graver fears:
    Life greatens in these later years,
    The century's aloe flowers to-day!

    Yet, haply, in some lull of life,
    Some Truce of God which breaks its strife,
    The wordling's eyes shall gather dew,
    Dreaming in throngful city ways
    Of winter joys his boyhood knew;
    And dear and early friends - the few
    Who yet remain - shall pause to view
    These Flemish pictures of old days;
    Sit with me by the homestead hearth
    And stretch the hands of memory forth
    To warm them at the wood-fire's blaze!
    And thanks untraced to lips unknown
    Shall greet me like the odors blown
    From unseen meadows newly mown,
    Or lilies floating in some pond,
    Wood-fringed, the wayside gaze beyond;
    The traveller owns the grateful sense
    Of sweetness near, he knows not whence,
    And, pausing takes with forehead bare
    The benediction of the air.

Aum, Peace, Amen

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