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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

Middle States: Roslyn, N. Y.

Bryant’s Birthday, 1878

By Charlotte Fiske Bates (1838–1916)

The Birthday after Death

NOVEMBER, lays our very losses bare,

Stripping a shadowy solace with the leaf;

The stark, reft branches sharply cut the air,

Giving a naked poignancy to grief.

Yet, too, this thought with subtle comfort steals,

No secret now between the earth and sky!

All open unto heaven the spirit feels,

While gazing there with unobstructed eye.

A year ago within the poet’s home

Unfelt the lateness of the life and year;

Around him warm remembrance gave its bloom,

While his fresh thought retained its summer cheer.

In this dead birthday how revives the last!

Friends, gifts, and greetings,—then he welcomed all!

Thinking how much his utterance in the past

With deepest faith this absence could forestall,

And count those present who had gone to God,

We offer in our heart the old-time word,

Nor lose the answer for the new-year’s sod;

In some sweet verse of his it still is heard.