James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

December 19

To Bayard Taylor beyond Us

By Paul Hamilton Hayne (1830–1886)

  • Written on Christmas Eve. Died Dec. 19, 1878.

  • AS here within I watch the fervid coals,

    While the chill heavens without shine wanly white,

    I wonder, friend! in what rare realm of souls,

    You hail the uprising Christmas-tide to-night!

    I leave the fire-place, lift the curtain’s fold,

    And peering past these shadowy window-bars,

    See through broad rifts of ghostly clouds unrolled,

    The pulsing pallor of phantasmal stars.

    Phantoms they seem, glimpsed through the clouded deep,

    Till the winds cease, and cloudland’s ghastly glow

    Gives place above to luminous calms of sleep,

    Beneath, to glittering amplitudes of snow!

    Some stars like steely bosks on blazoned shields,

    Stud constellations measureless in might;

    Some lily-pale, make fair the ethereal fields,

    In which, O friend, art thou ensphered to-night?

    Where’er mid yonder infinite worlds it be,

    Its souls, I know, are clothed with wings of fire;

    How wouldst thou scorn even Immortality,

    In whose dull rest thou couldst not still aspire!

    There, Homer raised where genius can not nod,

    Hears the orbed thunders of celestial seas;

    And Shakespeare, lofty almost as a God,

    Smiles his large smile at Aristophanes;

    With earth’s supremest souls, still grouped apart,

    Great souls made perfect in the eternal noon,

    There thy loved Goethe holds thee to his heart,

    Re-born to youth and all life’s chords in tune.

    While in the liberal air of that wide heaven,

    He whispers: “Come! we share the self-same height;

    To me on earth thy noblest toils were given,

    Brothers, henceforth, we walk these paths of light.”

    Clear and more clear the radiant vision gleams!

    More bright grand shapes and glorious faces grow;

    While like deep fugues of victory, heard in dreams,

    A thousand heavenly clarions seem to blow!