After so long an absence At last we meet again: Does the meeting give us pleasure, Or does it give us pain? The tree of life has been shaken, And but few of us linger now, Like the Prophet's two or three berries In the top of the uppermost bough. We cordially greet each other In the old, familiar tone; And we think, though we do not say it, How old and gray he is grown! We speak of a Merry Christmas And many a Happy New Year But each in his heart is thinking Of those that are not here. We speak of friends and their fortunes, And of what they did and said, Till the dead alone seem living, And the living alone seem dead. And at last we hardly distinguish Between the ghosts and the guests; And a mist and shadow of sadness Steals over our merriest jests.
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