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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

The Death of the Year

By Aleardo Aleardi (1812–1878)

From ‘An Hour of My Youth’

ERE yet upon the unhappy Arctic lands,

In dying autumn, Erebus descends

With the night’s thousand hours, along the verge

Of the horizon, like a fugitive,

Through the long days wanders the weary sun;

And when at last under the wave is quenched

The last gleam of its golden countenance,

Interminable twilight land and sea

Discolors, and the north wind covers deep

All things in snow, as in their sepulchres

The dead are buried. In the distances

The shock of warring Cyclades of ice

Makes music as of wild and strange lament;

And up in heaven now tardily are lit

The solitary polar star and seven

Lamps of the bear. And now the warlike race

Of swans gather their hosts upon the breast

Of some far gulf, and, bidding their farewell

To the white cliffs and slender junipers,

And sea-weed bridal-beds, intone the song

Of parting, and a sad metallic clang

Send through the mists. Upon their southward way

They greet the beryl-tinted icebergs; greet

Flamy volcanoes and the seething founts

Of geysers, and the melancholy yellow

Of the Icelandic fields; and, wearying

Their lily wings amid the boreal lights,

Journey away unto the joyous shores

Of morning.