Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE OLD YEAR, by CHRISTOPHER PEARSE CRANCH

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE OLD YEAR, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: O good old year! This night's your last
Last Line: I see your cab is waiting.
Subject(s): Holidays; New Year; Time

O GOOD Old Year! this night's your last.
And must you go? With you I've passed
Some days that bear revision.
For these I'd thank you, ere you make
Your journey to the Stygian lake,
Or to the fields Elysian.
Long have you been our household guest;
To keep you we have tried our best.
You must not stay, you tell us,
Not even to introduce your heir,
Who comes so fresh and debonnair
He needs must make you jealous.
I heard your footsteps overhead
To-night -- and to myself I said
He's packing his portmanteau.
His book and staff like Prospero's
He has buried, where nobody knows,
And finished his last canto.
Your well-known hat and cloak still look
The same upon their entry hook,
And seem as if they grew here.
But they, ah me! will soon be gone,
And we be sitting here alone
To welcome in the New Year.
The boots so oft put out at night
Will vanish ere to-morrow's light
Across the east is burning.
When morning comes, full well I know
They'll leave no footprints in the snow
Of going or returning.
At twelve o'clock to-night Queen Mab
Will take you in her spectral cab
To catch the downward fast train.
Some of us will sit up with you,
And drink a parting cup with you,
While I indite this last strain.
O good old wise frost-headed Year,
You're brought us health and strength and cheer,
Though sometimes care and sorrow.
Each morn you gave us newer hope
That reached beyond the cloudy scope
Of our unseen to-morrow.
We knew you when you were, forsooth,
No better than a stranger youth --
A fast youth, some one muttered,
When thinking how the days you gave
On ghostly horses to their grave
Have galloped, flown and fluttered.
But what is time, by moon and stars
Checked off in monthly calendars,
To fairy kings like you here?
What are the centuries that span
The inch-wide spaces ruled by man?
Or what are Old and New Year?
You go to join the million years,
The great veiled deep that never clears
Before our mortal seeing:
The shrouded death, the evolving life,
The growth, the mystery, the strife
Of elemental being.
We see in your abstracted eye
The clouded flame of prophecy,
Of time the immortal scorning --
And yet the sympathetic smile
That says, "I fain would stay awhile
To bid your rhymes good-morning."
Ah! no more rhymes for you and me,
Old Year, shall we together see, --
Yes, we to-night must sever.
Good-bye, old Number Seventy-five!
It 's nearly time you took your drive
Into the dark forever.
The train that stops for you will let
A stranger out we never met,
To take your place and station.
With greetings glad and shouts of joy
They'll welcome him -- while you, old boy,
Depart with no ovation.
Besides, he has a higher claim
Than you -- a grand ancestral name
That sets the bells a-ringing.
The great Centennial Year is he.
The nation's noisy jubilee
Young Seventy-six is bringing.
I hear the puffing of his steam.
I hear his locomotive scream
Across the hills and meadows.
One parting glass -- the last -- the last!
Ten minutes more, and you'll have passed
Into the realm of shadows.
Five minutes yet? But talk must end.
On with your cloak and cap, old friend!
Too long we have been prating.
Your blessing now! We'll think of you.
Ah, there's the clock! Adieu -- adieu!
I see your cab is waiting.

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