At Dawn and Dusk

A Christmas Eve

Victor James Daley

GOOD fellows are laughing and drinking
    (To-night no heart should grieve),
But I am of old days thinking,
    Alone, on Christmas Eve.
Old memories fast are springing
    To life again; old rhymes
Once more in my brain are ringing—
    Ah, God be with old times!

There never was man so lonely
    But ghosts walked him beside,
For Death our spirits can only
    By veils of sense divide.
Numberless as the blades of
    Grass in the fields that grow,
Around us hover the shades of
    The dead of long ago.

Friends living a word estranges;
    We smile, and we say “Adieu!”
But, whatsoever else changes,
    Dead friends are faithful and true.
An old-time tune, or a flower,
    The simplest thing held dear
In bygone days has the power
    Once more to bring them near.

And whether it be through thinking
    Of memories sad and sweet,
Or hearing the cheery clinking
    Of glasses across the street,
I know not; but this is certain
    That, here in the dusk, I view
Like shadows seen through a curtain,
    The shades of the friends I knew.

Methinks that I hear their laughter—
    An echo of ghostly mirth,
As if in the dim Hereafter
    They jest as they did on earth.
The fancy possibly droll is,
    And yet it relieves my mind
To think the enfranchised soul is
    So humorously inclined.

But hark! whose steps in the glancing
    Moonbeams are these I hear,
That sound as if timed to dancing
    Music of gallant cheer!
Half Galahad, half Don Juan,
    His head full of wild romance;
’Twas thus that of old would Spruhan
    Come lilting, “We met by chance.”

Sure never a spirit lighter
    At heart quaffed mountain dew;
Never was goblin brighter
    That Oberon’s kingdom knew.
And though at this season yearly
    I miss the grasp of his hand,
I know that Spruhan has merely
    Gone back to Fairyland.

.     .     .     .     .

The shades grow dimmer and dimmer,
    And now they fade from view,
I see in the East the glimmer
    Of dawn. Old friends, adieu!
Sitting here, lonely hearted,
    Writing these random rhymes.
I drink to the days departed,—
    Ah, God be with old times!

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