In several of my recent writings, i’ve been trying to express some feelings about this Christmas thing. i think i got close with my latest Democrat column about “balance.” But then this morning, i opened up my “Writer’s Almanac” email and read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Meeting.”
The man did have a way with words…words that captured my feelings about this Christmas thing better than i. Here is the poem, now in the public domain, printed in today’s “Writer’s Almanac:”
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 prophets 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.