After The Curfew

THE Play is over. While the light
Yet lingers in the darkening hall,
I come to say a last Good-night
Before the final _Exeunt all_.

We gathered once, a joyous throng:
The jovial toasts went gayly round;
With jest, and laugh, and shout, and song,
We made the floors and walls resound.

We come with feeble steps and slow,
A little band of four or five,
Left from the wrecks of long ago,
Still pleased to find ourselves alive.

Alive! How living, too, are they
Whose memories it is ours to share!
Spread the long table's full array,--
There sits a ghost in every chair!

One breathing form no more, alas!
Amid our slender group we see;
With him we still remained 'The Class,'--
Without his presence what are we?

The hand we ever loved to clasp,--
That tireless hand which knew no rest,--
Loosed from affection's clinging grasp,
Lies nerveless on the peaceful breast.

The beaming eye, the cheering voice,
That lent to life a generous glow,
Whose every meaning said 'Rejoice,'
We see, we hear, no more below.

The air seems darkened by his loss,
Earth's shadowed features look less fair,
And heavier weighs the daily cross
His willing shoulders helped us bear.

Why mourn that we, the favored few
Whom grasping Time so long has spared
Life's sweet illusions to pursue,
The common lot of age have shared?

In every pulse of Friendship's heart
There breeds unfelt a throb of pain,--
One hour must rend its links apart,
Though years on years have forged the chain.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

So ends 'The Boys,'--a lifelong play.
We too must hear the Prompter's call
To fairer scenes and brighter day
Farewell! I let the curtain fall.

by Oliver Wendell Holmes

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