The First Christmas Apart

Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward

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The shadows watch about the house;
Silent as they, I come.
Oh, it is true that life is deaf,
And not that death is dumb.

The Christmas thrill is on the earth,
The stars throb in the sky.
Love listens in a thousand homes,--
The Christmas bells ring by.

I cross the old familiar door
And take the dear old chair.
You look with desolated eyes
Upon me sitting there.

You gaze and see not, though the tears
In gazing burn and start.
Believe, the living are the blind,
Not that the dead depart.

A year ago some words we said
Kept sacred 'twixt us twain,
'T is you, poor Love, who answer not,
The while I speak again.

I lean above you as before,
Faithful, my arms enfold.
Oh, could you know that life is numb,
Nor think that death is cold!

Senses of earth, how weak ye are!
Joys, joys of Heaven how strong!
Loves of the earth, how short and sad,
Of Heaven how glad and long!

Heart of my heart! if earth or Heaven
Had speech or language fine
Enough, or death or life could give
Me symbol, sound, or sign

To reach you--thought, or touch, or eye,
Body or soul--I 'd die
Again, to make you understand:
My darling! This is I!

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