The Meeting


    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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