Classic and Contemporary Poetry
THE OLD YEAR AND THE NEW, by JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY Poet's Biography
First Line: As one in sorrow looks upon
Last Line: As happy as the old!
Alternate Author Name(s): Johnson Of Boone, Benj. F.
Subject(s): Bells; Future; God; Holidays; Laughter; New Year
AS one in sorrow looks upon
The dead face of a loyal friend,
By the dim light of New Year's dawn
I saw the Old Year end.
Upon the pallid features lay
The dear old smile -- so warm and bright
Ere thus its cheer had died away
In ashes of delight.
The hands that I had learned to love
With strength of passion half divine,
Were folded now, all heedless of
The emptiness of mine.
The eyes that once had shed their bright
Sweet looks like sunshine, now were dull,
And ever lidded from the light
That made them beautiful.
The chimes of bells were in the air,
And sounds of mirth in hall and street,
With pealing laughter everywhere
And throb of dancing feet:
The mirth and the convivial din
Of revelers in wanton glee,
With tunes of harp and violin
In tangled harmony.
But with a sense of nameless dread,
I turned me, from the merry face
Of this newcomer, to my dead;
And, kneeling there a space,
I sobbed aloud, all tearfully: --
By this dear face so fixed and cold,
O Lord, let not this New Year be
As happy as the old!
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