Poetry Sunday: The Passing of the Year by Robert Service

And so we come to the last day of the year, and, yes, there's a poem for that!

Robert W. Service, the "Bard of the Yukon," marked the passage of the year with this poem, published in 1912. More than a hundred years later, although much has changed, we still reflect here at the ending on all the events of the year that is passing - the good and the bad, the praiseworthy and the blameworthy.

Regardless of it all, I can still say with the poet:
"I thank God for each day of you;
There! bless you now! Old Year, good-bye!"

The Passing of the Year

by Robert W. 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!


  1. A voice from our past, communicating through the years, reminding us of how things change and yet remain the same. Happy New Year, Dorothy.

    1. Since human nature remains the same, it seems that we are stuck in an ongoing cycle. His poem might have been written this year. I hope this coming year brings all the best to you, Alana.

  2. Great poem. I had not read it before. 2017 was good to me, in that I started my new job that I love. In other ways, not so good. My back and knee issues meant that I couldn't be as active I as I wanted too and my back yard certainly shows the neglect! Happy New Year Dorothy.

    1. May 2018 be both happy AND healthy for you, Jayne.

  3. What a beautiful poem, Dorothy! Happy New Year to you and yours!

    1. And a very happy New Year to you, Carmen. Thank you for reading the blog in 2017.

    2. You put up great content so it's no effort to read your blog. :-)

  4. Thank you Dorothy. You always find the apropos!


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