A Song for the New Year

by BARRY CORNWALL (1787-1874)
Literary pseudonym of Bryan Waller Procter

Hark!
The Old Year is gone!
And the young New Year is coming!
Through minutes, and days, and unknown skies,
My soul on her forward journey flies;
Over the regions of rain and snow ;
And beyond where the wild March-trumpets blow!
And I see the meadows, all cowslip-strewn;
And I dream of the dove in the greenwood lone;
And the wild bee humming:—
And all because the New Year is coming!

The Winter is cold, the Winter is gray,
But he hath not a sound on his tongue to-day:
The son of the stormy Autumn, he
Totters about on a palsied knee,
With a frozen heart and a feeble head:
Let us pierce a barrel and drink him dead!
The fresh New Year is almost here;
Let us warm him with mistletoe boughs, my dear !
Let us welcome him hither, with songs and wine,
Who holdeth such joys in his arms divine!
What is the Past,—to you, or me,
But a thing that was, and was to be?
And now it is gone to a world unknown;
Its deeds are done ; its flight is flown !

Hark to The Past! In a bitter tone,
It crieth “The good Old Year is flown,”—
The sire of a thousand thoughtful hours,
Of a thousand songs, of a thousand flowers!
Ah ! why, thou ungrateful child of rhyme,
Bail ‘st thou at the deeds of our father Time?
Hath he not fed thee, day by day,
With fancies that soothe thy soul alway?
Hath he not ‘wakened, with pleasant pain,
The Muse that slept in thy teeming brain?
Hath he not—ah ! dost thou forget
All the amount of the mighty debt?

Hush, hush !—The little I owe to Time
I ‘ll pay him, some day, with a moody rhyme,—
Full of phantasmas, dark and drear,
As the shadows thrown down by the old Old Year,—
Dim as the echoes that lately fell
From the deep Night’s funereal bell,
Sounding hollow o’er hill and vale,
Like the close of a mournful tale!

…. In the meantime,—speak, trump and drum!
The Year is gone! the Year is come!
The fresh New Year, the bright New Year,
That telleth of hope and joy, my dear
Let us model our spirit to chance and change,
Let us lesson our spirit to hope, and range
Through pleasures to come,—through years unknown;
But never forget the time that’s flown!

Barry Cornwall Contemporaries
William Cullen Bryant
John Cunningham
Thomas Love Peacock
Henry Kirke White

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