Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Hope for a Brighter Year and an End to the War, and Tennyson's 'Death of the Old Year' to See Out 1917

From the editorial page of the Rockingham Post-Dispatch, Dec. 27, 1917. The war would end in 1918 but the Spanish Flu Pandemic would kill 50 million people worldwide.

New Year
Next Monday night at the stroke of twelve the new year of 1918 will be ushered in. To many, the out-going year is fraught with memories that burn but to vastly many others the year dealt kindly and these latter are loath to see their friend depart.

The world is in the grip of a horrible war. Let us all work and pray to the end that a surcease may be made to it during the approaching 1918.

“Death of the Old Year”
To the editor’s way of thinking, Tennyson’s ‘Death of the Old Year’ is one of the sweetest poems penned. Don’t you think the custom of reading this poem just before the New Year is ushered in is a beautiful one? If you haven’t your copy of Tennyson convenient, just clip this out and next Monday night just before the midnight hour strikes begin reading aloud to your loved ones this tribute to our Old Year, timing yourself so that on the stroke of twelve you will have reached the last half of the last stanza—and can joyfully welcome the ‘new face at the door’ and happily step over the threshold of the New Year.

Full knee deep lies the winter snow,

And the winter winds are wearily sighing:

Toll ye the church-bell sad and slow,

And tread softly and speak low,

For the old year lies a-dying;

            Old Year, you must not die;

            You came to us so readily,

            You lived with us so steadily,

            Old Year, you shall not die.

He lieth still; he doth not move;

He will not see the dawn of day.

He hath no other life above.

He have me a friend, and a true, true-love,

And the New Year will take ‘em away,

            Old Year, you must not go;

            So long as you have been with us,

            Such joys as you have seen with us,

            Old Year, you shall not go.


He froth’d his bumpers to the brim,

A jollier year we shall not see,

But tho’ his eyes are waxing dim,

And tho’ his foes speak ill of him,

He was a friend to me.

            Old Year, you shall not die.

            We did so laugh and cry with you,

            I’ve half a mind to die with you,

            Old Year, if you must die.

He was full of joke and jest,

But all his merry quips are o’er.

To see him die, across the waste

His son and heir doth ride post-haste,

But he’ll be dead before.

            Every one for his own.

            The night is starry and cold, my friend,

            And the New Year blithe and bold, my friend.

            Come up to take his own.

How hard he breathes! Over the snow

I heard just now the crowing cock.

The shadows flicker to and fro:

The cricket chirps; the lights burn low;

‘Tis nearly twelve o’clock.

            Shake hands before you die,

            Old Year, we’ll dearly rue for you.

            What is it we can do for you?

            Speak out before you die.

His face is growing sharp and thin.

Alack our friend is gone.

Close up his eyes, tie up his chin:

Step from the corpse and let him in

That standeth there alone,

And waiteth at the door.

            There’s a new foot on the floor, my friend,

            And a new face at the door, my friend,

            A new face at the door.

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