Saturday, 31 December 2016

A year gone, a year to come

Since I did not write or review much this year, I thought I would at least end the year with a post on one of my favourite literary genres—classical poetry. Fittingly, a poem about New Year's Eve or New Year.

There was plenty to choose from. I read Alfred Lord Tennyson's The Death of the Old Year, Thomas Hardy's New Year's Eve, Christina Rossetti's Old and New Year Ditties, Robert Burns' Auld Lang Syne, Helen Hunt Jackson's New Year's Morning, D.H. Lawrence's New Year's Night, Sylvia Plath's New Year on Dartmoor, and John Clare's The Old Year.

I liked them all.

A lot of people look at the old year with sadness, regret, and emotion. And a lot of writing, and especially poetry, reflect those feelings. We remember it mostly as just another year when we grew old and where we could have done so much more, personally and professionally. Fortunately, our minds are trained to conveniently hide unhappy memories, if not erase them completely. Every passing year brings in its anguished wake a new year filled with renewed hope, optimism, and purpose of life, where we dream of doing better than we did in the previous year, and where we truly believe—"This is going to be my year. And I am going to make things happen for me and my family."

Of all the beautiful poems I read, the one that resonated with me this evening, hours before New Year, was The Year by American author-poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919). I thought it was realistic and balanced. I liked the way it bids goodbye to the Old Year and ushers in the New Year, depending on how you read it. And it rhymes very well too.

What can be said in New Year rhymes,
That's not been said a thousand times?

The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.

We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.

We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.

We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our prides, we sheet our dead.

We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that's the burden of a year.


Ella Wheeler's most famous poem was Solitude which gave us the equally famous opening lines:

Laugh, and the world laughs with you
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth
But has trouble enough of its own.


I sincerely hope you will have lots of reasons to laugh in 2017 and beyond. I wish you a joyous New Year filled with health and happiness.

10 comments:

  1. A lovely choice of poem, Prashant. Reflective, beautiful, and lots to think about... Happy New Year!

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  2. A perfect choice for a poem to begin the new year, Prashant. I hope you and your family have a wonderful 2017.

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  3. Thanks for this, Prashant. Wonderful poem. Happy New Year to you and your family.

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  4. That Wilcox poem is awesome. Love that

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  5. Wishing you many reasons to laugh in 2017 too Prashant - Have a great year and thank you for all your support during 2016!

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  6. I enjoy Ella's poems and have a collection of her poetry on my kindle. Her work ages well.

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  7. Happy New Year Prashant, and thanks for the poem - I'd not come across it before, but it is an excellent new year choice.

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  8. Happy New Year, Prashant! I liked this spotlight on poetry, very appropriate for this time.

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  9. Prashant – Happy New Year and thanks for the poetry. I am looking forward to 2017, and not because 2016 was so bad. Last year was difficult, but I had a lot to be thankful for and a couple of nice victories along the way.

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  10. Thank you, everyone! Happy New Year to all of you, too. I hope your lives are filled with joy and good books.

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