The Passing Of The Year

Robert William Service 1874 – 1958

My glass is filled, my pipe is lit,
  My den is all a cosy glow;
And snug before the fire I sit,
  And wait to feel the old year go.
I dedicate to solemn thought
  Amid my too-unthinking days,
This sober moment, sadly fraught
  With much of blame, with little praise.

Old Year! upon the Stage of Time
  You stand to bow your last adieu;
A moment, and the prompter's chime
  Will ring the curtain down on you.
Your mien is sad, your step is slow;
  You falter as a Sage in pain;
Yet turn, Old Year, before you go,
  And face your audience again.

That sphinx-like face, remote, austere,
  Let us all read, whate'er the cost:
O Maiden! why that bitter tear?
  Is it for dear one you have lost?
Is it for fond illusion gone?
  For trusted lover proved untrue?
O sweet girl-face, so sad, so wan
  What hath the Old Year meant to you?

And you, O neighbour on my right
  So sleek, so prosperously clad!
What see you in that aged wight
  That makes your smile so gay and glad?
What opportunity unmissed?
  What golden gain, what pride of place?
What splendid hope? O Optimist!
  What read you in that withered face?

And You, deep shrinking in the gloom,
  What find you in that filmy gaze?
What menace of a tragic doom?
  What dark, condemning yesterdays?
What urge to crime, what evil done?
  What cold, confronting shape of fear?
O haggard, haunted, hidden One
  What see you in the dying year?

And so from face to face I flit,
  The countless eyes that stare and stare;
Some are with approbation lit,
  And some are shadowed with despair.
Some show a smile and some a frown;
  Some joy and hope, some pain and woe:
Enough! Oh, ring the curtain down!
  Old weary year! it's time to go.

My pipe is out, my glass is dry;
  My fire is almost ashes too;
But once again, before you go,
  And I prepare to meet the New:
Old Year! a parting word that's true,
  For we've been comrades, you and I --
I thank God for each day of you;
  There! bless you now! Old Year, good-bye!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Robert William Service

Robert William Service was a poet and writer sometimes referred to as the Bard of the Yukon He is best-known for his writings on the Canadian North including the poems The Shooting of Dan McGrew The Law of the Yukon and The Cremation of Sam McGee His writing was so expressive that his readers took him for a hard-bitten old Klondike prospector not the later-arriving bank clerk he actually was Robert William Service was born 16 January 1874 in Preston England but also lived in Scotland before emigrating to Canada in 1894 Service went to the Yukon Territory in 1904 as a bank clerk and became famous for his poems about this region which are mostly in his first two books of poetry He wrote quite a bit of prose as well and worked as a reporter for some time but those writings are not nearly as well known as his poems He travelled around the world quite a bit and narrowly escaped from France at the beginning of the Second World War during which time he lived in Hollywood California He died 11 September 1958 in France Incidentally he played himself in a movie called The Spoilers starring John Wayne and Marlene Dietrich more…

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    "The Passing Of The Year" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 28 Oct. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/32610/the-passing-of-the-year>.

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