TE DEUM

Not because of victories
I sing,
having none,
but for the common sunshine,
the breeze,
the largess of the spring.

Not for victory
but for the day’s work done
as well as I was able;
not for a seat upon the dais
but at the common table.

  — Charles Reznikoff (1894 – 1976), American poet

 



 
AT THE ENTERING OF THE NEW YEAR

           I
           (OLD STYLE)

Our songs went up and out the chimney,
And roused the home-gone husbandmen;
Our allemands, our heys, poussettings,
Our hands-across and back again,
Sent rhythmic throbbings through the casements
           On to the white highway,
Where nighted farers paused and muttered,
           “Keep it up well, do they!”

The contrabasso’s measured booming
Sped at each bar to the parish bounds,
To shepherds at their midnight lambings,
To stealthy poachers on their rounds;
And everybody caught full duly
           The notes of our delight,
As Time unrobed the Youth of Promise
           Hailed by our sanguine sight.

           II
           (NEW STYLE)

We stand in the dusk of a pine-tree limb,
As if to give ear to the muffled peal,
Brought or withheld at the breeze’s whim;
But our truest heed is to words that steal
From the mantled ghost that looms in the gray,
And seems, so far as our sense can see,
To feature bereaved Humanity,
As it sighs to the imminent year its say:—

“O stay without, O stay without,
Calm comely Youth, untasked, untired;
Though stars irradiate thee about
Thy entrance here is undesired.
Open the gate not, mystic one;
           Must we avow what we would close confine?

           With thee, good friend, we would have converse none,
Albeit the fault may not be thine.”

           December 31. During the War.

  — Thomas Hardy (1840 – 1928), English Poet