Hanford Lennox Gordon Poems >>
New Year's Address-January 1, 1866
Good morning--good morning--a happy new year!
We greet you, kind friends of the old _Pioneer_;
Hope your coffee is good and your steak is well done,
And you're happy as clams in the sand and the sun.
The old year's a shadow--a shade of the past;
It is gone with its toils and its triumphs so vast--
With its joys and its tears--with its pleasure and pain--
With its shouts of the brave and its heaps of the slain--
Gone--and it cometh--no, never again.
And as we look forth on the future so fair
Let us brush from the picture the visage of care;
The error, the folly, the frown and the tear--
Drop them all at the grave of the silent old year.
Has the heart been oppressed with a burden of woe?
Has the spirit been cowed by a merciless blow?
Has the tongue of the brave or the voice of the fair
Prayed to God and received no response to its prayer?
Look up!--'twas a shadow--the morning is here:
A Happy New Year!--O, a Happy New Year!
Yet stay for a moment. We cannot forget
The fields where the true and the traitor have met;
When the old year came in we were trembling with fear
Lest Freedom should fall in her glorious career;
And the roar of the conflict was loud o'er the land
Where the traitor-flag waved in a rebel's red hand;
But the God of the Just led the hosts of the Free,
And Victory marched from the north to the sea.
Behold--where the conflict was doubtful and dire--
There--on house-top and hill-top, on fortress and spire--
The Old Banner waves again higher and prouder,
Though torn by the shot and begrimed by the powder.
God bless the brave soldiers that followed that flag
Through river and swamp, over mountain and crag--
On the wild charge triumphant--the sullen retreat--
On fields spread with victory or piled with defeat;
God bless their true hearts for they stood like a wall,
And saved us our Country and saved us our all.
But many a mother and many a daughter
Weep, alas, o'er the brave that went down in the slaughter.
Pile the monuments high--not on hill-top and plain--
To the glorious sons 'neath the old banner slain--
But over the land from the sea to the sea--
Pile their monuments high in the hearts of the Free.
Heaven bless the brave souls that are spared to return
Where the "lamp in the window" ceased never to burn--
Where the vacant chair stood at the desolate hearth
Since the son shouldered arms or the father went forth.
"Peace!--Peace!"--was the shout;--at the jubilant word
Wives and mothers went down on their knees to the Lord!
Methinks I can see, through the vista of years--
From the memories of old such a vision appears--
A gray-haired old veteran in arm-chair at ease,
With his grandchildren clustered intent at his knees,
Recounting his deeds with an eloquent tongue,
And a fire that enkindles the hearts of the young;
How he followed the Flag from the first to the last--
On the long, weary march, in the battle's hot blast;
How he marched under Sherman from center to sea,
Or fought under Grant in his battles with Lee;
And the old fire comes back to his eye as of yore,
And his iron hand clutches his musket once more,
As of old on the battle-field ghastly and red,
When he sprang to the charge o'er the dying and dead;
And the eyes of his listeners are gleaming with fire,
As he points to that Flag floating high on the spire.
Heaven bless the new year that is just ushered in;
May the Rebels repent of their folly and sin,
Depart from their idols, extend the right hand,
And pledge that the Union forever shall stand.
May they see that the rending of fetter and chain
Is _their_ triumph as well--their unspeakable gain;
That the Union dissevered and weltering in blood
Could yield them no profit and bode them no good.
'Tis human to err and divine to forgive;
Let us walk after Christ--bid the poor sinners live,
And come back to the fold of the Union once more,
And we'll do as the prodigal's father of yore--
Kill the well-fatted calf--(but we'll not do it twice)
And invite them to dinner--and give them a slice.
There's old Johnny Bull--what a terrible groan
Escapes when he thinks of his big "Rebel Loan"--
How the money went out with a nod and a grin,
But the cotton--the cotton--it didn't come in.
Then he thinks of diplomacy--Mason-Slidell,
And he wishes that both had been warming in hell,
For he got such a rap from our little Bill Seward
That the red nose he blows is right hard to be cured;
And then the steam pirates he built and equipped,
And boasted, you know, that they couldn't be whipped;
But alas for his boast--Johnny Bull "caught a Tartar,"
And now like a calf he is bawling for quarter.
Yes, bluff Johnny Bull will be tame as a yearling,
Beg pardon and humbly "come down" with his sterling.
There's Monsieur _l'Escamoteur_ over in France;
He has had a clear field and a gay country dance
Down there in Mexico--playing his tricks
While we had a family "discussion wid sticks";
But the game is played out; don't you see it's so handy
For Grant and his boys to march over the Grande.
He twists his waxed moustache and looks very blue,
And he says to himself, (what he wouldn't to you)
"Py tam--dair's mon poor leetle chappie--Dutch Max!
_Cornes du Diable_--'e'll 'ave to make tracks
Or ve'll 'ave all dem tam Yankee poys on our packs."
Monsieur l'Empereur, if your Max can get out
With the hair of his head on--he'd better, no doubt.
If you'll not take it hard, here's a bit of advice--
It is dangerous for big pigs to dance on the ice;
They sometimes slip up and they sometimes fall in,
And the ice you are on is exceedingly thin.
You're _au fait_, I'll admit, at a sharp game of chance,
But the Devil himself couldn't always beat France.
Remember the fate of your uncle of yore,
Tread lightly, and keep very close to the shore.
The Giant Republic--its future how vast!
Now, freed from the follies and sins of the past,
It will tower to the zenith; the ice-covered sea
And Darien shall bound-mark the Land of the Free.
Behold how the landless, the poor and oppressed,
Flock in on our shores from the East and the West!
Let them come--bid them come--we have plenty of room;
Our forests shall echo, our prairies shall bloom;
The iron horse, puffing his cloud-breath of steam,
Shall course every valley and leap every stream;
New cities shall rise with a magic untold,
While our mines yield their treasures of silver and gold,
And prosperous, united and happy, we'll climb
Up the mountain of Fame till the end of Old Time--
Which, as I figure up, is a century hence:
Then we'll all go abroad without any expense;
We'll capture a comet--the smart Yankee race
Will ride on his tail through the kingdom of Space,
Tack their telegraph wires to Uranus and Mars;
Yea, carry their arts to the ultimate stars,
And flaunt the Old Flag at the suns as they pass,
And astonish the Devil himself with--their brass.
And now, "Gentle Readers," I'll bid you farewell;
I hope this fine poem will please you--and _sell_.
You'll ne'er lack a friend if you ne'er lack a dime;
May you never grow old till the end of Old Time;
May you never be cursed with an itching for rhyme;
For in spite of your physic, in spite of your plaster,
The rash will break out till you go to disaster--
Which you plainly can see is the case with my Muse,
For she scratches away though she's said her adieus.
Dear Ladies, though last to receive my oblation,
And last in the list of Mosaic creation,
The last is the best, and the last shall be first.
Through Eve, sayeth Moses, old Adam was cursed;
But I cannot agree with you, Moses, that Adam
Sinned and fell through the gentle persuasion of madam.
The victim, no doubt, of Egyptian flirtation,
You mistook your chagrin for divine inspiration,
And condemned all the sex without proof or probation,
As we rhymsters mistake the moonbeams that elate us
For flashes of wit or the holy afflatus,
And imagine we hear the applause of a nation,--
But all honest men who are married and blest
Will agree that the last work of God is the best.
And now to you all--whether married or single--
Whether sheltered by slate, or by "shake," or by shingle--
God bless you with peace and with bountiful cheer,
Happy houses, happy hearts--and a happy New Year!
P.S.--If you wish all these blessings, 'tis clear
You should send in your "stamps" for the old _Pioneer_.
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