Frederika Richardson Macdonald-New Year’s Eve—Midnight

New Year’s Eve—Midnight

DEAD. The dead year is lying at my feet;
In this strange hour the past and future meet;
There is no present; no land in the vast sea;
Appalled, I stand here in Eternity.

Darkness upon me. On my soul it weighs;
The gloom, that has crushed out the life of days
That once knew light, has crept into my heart;
I have not strength to bid it thence depart.

Oh, what is Time? and what is Life, the fire
That thrills my pulses with its large desire?
Since at each step I rend a fragment of my soul,
And growth means dying, whither is the goal?

The old, old question! yet I do not shrink
From bitter truths; I do not fear to drink
Even to the dregs the cup that tears may fill;
I ’d know God’s truth, though it were human ill.

I have cast down the idols in my mind
Which sought to comfort me for being blind;
I need no pleasant lie to cheat the night,
I need God’s Truth, that I may walk aright.

That, and that only! with unflinching eyes
I would tear through the secret of the skies;
Smile on, ye stars; in me there is a might
Which dares to scale your large empyreal height.

Yet—yet—how shall it be? Time sweeps me on,
And what one day I hold, the next is gone;
The very Heavens are changed! the face they wore,
A moment back, is lost to come no more.

My soul along the restless current drifts,
And to its sight the source of radiance shifts;
Wildly I strive some gleam of truth to save,
And cry, “God help me!” battling with the wave.

God help me? Well I know the prayer is vain,
Although it rush up to my lips again;
I know His help was given with the Breath
That leads me thus to struggle against death.

No further help. No help beyond the soul,
The fragment of Himself I hold in my control;
From heaven, no stronger aid to lead me through the fight:
In heaven, no higher aim to bind me to the Right.

Thus stand I on the brink of this new year,
Darkness upon me—not the work of fear.
Powerless I know to check the river’s sweep,
Powerful alone my own soul’s truth to keep.

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