AND what shall be the song to-night,
If song there needs must be?
If every year that brings us here
Must steal an hour from me?
Say, shall it ring a merry peal,
Or heave a mourning sigh
O'er shadows cast, by years long past,
On moments flitting by?
Nay, take the first unbidden line
The idle hour may send,
No studied grace can mend the face
That smiles as friend on friend;
The balsam oozes from the pine,
The sweetness from the rose,
And so, unsought, a kindly thought
Finds language as it flows.
The years rush by in sounding flight,
I hear their ceaseless wings;
Their songs I hear, some far, some near,
And thus the burden rings
'The morn has fled, the noon has past,
The sun will soon be set,
The twilight fade to midnight shade;
Remember all that time has brought--
The starry hope on high,
The strength attained, the courage gained,
The love that cannot die.
Forget the bitter, brooding thought,--
The word too harshly said,
The living blame love hates to name,
The frailties of the dead!
We have been younger, so they say,
But let the seasons roll,
He doth not lack an almanac
Whose youth is in his soul.
The snows may clog life's iron track,
But does the axle tire,
While bearing swift through bank and drift
The engine's heart of fire?
I lift a goblet in my hand;
If good old wine it hold,
An ancient skin to keep it in
Is just the thing, we 're told.
We 're grayer than the dusty flask,--
We 're older than our wine;
Our corks reveal the 'white top' seal,
The stamp of '29.
Ah, Boys! we clustered in the dawn,
To sever in the dark;
A merry crew, with loud halloo,
We climbed our painted bark;
We sailed her through the four years' cruise,
We 'll sail her to the last,
Our dear old flag, though but a rag,
Still flying on her mast.
So gliding on, each winter's gale
Shall pipe us all on deck,
Till, faint and few, the gathering crew
Creep o'er the parting wreck,
Her sails and streamers spread aloft
To fortune's rain or shine,
Till storm or sun shall all be one,
And down goes TWENTY-NINE!