Rhymes of a Rolling Stone

Robert W. Service

The Passing of the Year

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 --
 There! bless you now! Old Year, good-bye!

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