‘Tis winter time, and through the village street
The children laugh and shout in frenzied glee,
For now the schools their annual soirees give,
When youngsters revel over buns and tea.

This great event, the happy cynosure
Of youths, who meet in modern, well-taught schools,
Once more revolving time has brought around,
In strict accordance with established rules.

As six o’clock draws near, the door besieged
By scholars gay, each one with card in hand
Firm grasped, shuts out as by relentless fate
The pleasures destined for the happy band.

At last ‘tis ope’d, in rush the eager throng,
When lo! the sight that meets their wondering eyes,
Of rich-decked tables, and young ladies fair,
Seems like a glimpse of earthly paradise.

All in and seated, soon the feast begins,
The worthy pastor opens with a grace;
Up start the stewards, round go the trays of bread,
The steaming tea-cups brighten all the place.

One hour goes by, and “Man was made to eat”
Seems the great motto of the human kind;
But that hour o’er, they settle down in quiet
To hear the entertainment for the mind.

Which cultured men, warmed with the cup that cheers,
Dispense in speech and story grave or gay;
Mixed with sweet songs, and hymns of faith and love,
And recitation’s power to charm alway.

Now, fitting close, about the hour of ten
A layman’s name provokes the loud applause,
His object-lessons, pithy, plain and wise
Gain wrapt attention, as each point he draws.

‘Tis o’er at last, in settled order now
The youthful guests depart with many a cheer,
And, filled to surfeit with the night’s delights,
Go home to dream about the fun next year.

Such were the soirees; now the summer fetes
Supplant them all throughout the country side;
Yet still we turn with memory’s pleasant aid
To those old times, when youth was yet untried.

James Loughridge

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