The Meeting

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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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