The Benefactor

By Hannah Flagg Gould

Unsullied by time, and undimmed by a tear,
But fresh, on the wing of the new-born year,
I come, a pure and a holy thing;
And to all, who receive me, some gift I bring.
For childhood, amused with its stories and toys,
I’ve a lasting supply of those innocent joys;
And a breastplate of truth, that I’ll place o’er its heart,
To keep it unspotted from falsehood and art.
I give to the youth, as his hopes are full-blown,
Those hopes undeceived till their fruits are full-grown:
In the landscape of life, that before him is spread,
I will leave not a thorn, where I know he must tread.
I grant to the young and the beautiful maid
A form ne’er to wither—a cheek ne’er to fade—
A heart not to grieve that the lip oft may smile,
And treachery lurk in the bosom the while!
I give to the aged, to whom life must seem,
As ‘t is past in review, like a short, busy dream,
The peace undisturbed which may spring from the trust,
That, beyond time and earth, they shall live with the just.
For you, who are treading the gay, giddy round
Of fashion and folly, for you I have found
A far nobler work for your life’s fleeting day;
And I give to you wisdom to shine on your way.
To the prisoner, immured in the dark, starless night
Of a dungeon, I give heaven’s pure air and light;
And the power, though his hands may be crimson with guilt,
To wash themselves white from the blood they have spilt.
I give to the exile, who’s destined to roam
From parent, from brother and sister and home,
A welcome from him, who, those treasures possessing,
Shall find himself blest in bestowing the blessing.
For the poor I’ve a shelter from cold and from storm;
I’ve bread for his mouth, and a garb for his form;
But chiefly, a spirit to soar from the dust
To a treasure on high, safe from moth and from rust.
To the rich, for their deeds, as a final reward,
I will leave but the look and the word of their Lord:
May they hear, with a smile, from their Master divine,
“Ye have done unto me what ye did unto mine!”
Thus, for high and for low, for the young and the old,
For the wise and the foolish I’ve treasures untold;
And WISH is my name—but ye never must hear
What bosom I sprang from to hail the NEW YEAR!

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