6 THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
" Effacing all that's fair,— Hushing the voice of mirth Into the silence of despair, Around the lonesome hearth, And training ivy-garlands green O'er the once gay and social scene.
" In beauty fading fast Its silent trace appears ; And where—a phantom of the past, Dim in the mist of years— Gleams Tadmor o'er oblivion's waves, Like wrecks above their ocean-graves.
" Before the ceaseless shade That round the world doth sail, Its towers and temples bow the head,— The pyramids look pale,— The festal halls grow hushed and cold,— The everlasting hills wax old !
" Coeval with the sun,
Its silent course began,
And still its phantom-race shall run,
Till worlds with age grow wan,—
Till darkness spread her funeral pall,
And one vast shadow circle all!"
To the great natural divisions of time (with their aid—and guided by these hints), the ingenuity of man, under the direction of his wants, has been busy, since the world began, in adding artificial ones; while his heart has been active in supplying impulses, and furnishing devices, to that end. Years, and months, and days,—the periods marked out by the revolutions of our celestial guides,—have been aggregated and divided, after methods almost as various as the nations of the earth. Years have been composed into cycles, and olympiads, and generations, and reigns, and months resolved into decades and weeks,—days into hours,—and hours into subdivisions, which have been again subdivided, almost to the confines of thought. Yet, it is only in these latter ages of the world, that a measurement has been attained, at once so minute, and so closely harmonizing with the motions, and regulated by the revolutions, of the dials of the sky,