By Charles Sangster



OLD YEAR! OLD YEAR! my pulsing heart
     Is struggling like a wretch in chains,
     I would fly with thee o’er the plains,
Old Year.—Old Year, we must not part.
     Cold blows the night wind on the wold,


     The starbeams, too, are falsely cold,
     The pale moon’s boasted love is sold—
     Old Year, why hast thou grown so old!

Thou broughtest joy, thou broughtest woe,
     And there are hopes alive and dead,


     Thou broughtest faults of heart and head,
And yearnings purer than the snow.
     The plains are wide where thou would’st lead
     Me, barren as a lying creed,
     I cannot go, my heart would bleed—


     Old Year, why is thy fate decreed!

Thou hast struck down the bosom friend,
     That would have soothed our after years,
     And thou hast brought both smiles and tears,
And woes and blessings without end.


     Down come the snows, the night winds play,
     Like elves, through all thy locks of gray,
     Midnight is prone to bar thy way—
     Old Year, thou must not leave to-day!

Oh! motley life! Oh! checkered scene!


     A riddle-world of dreams and doubts, [Page 92]
     We dare not trust our latest thoughts,
We nothing know but what has been!
     Moaneth the skies, like stricken souls,
     My practiced sense can hear the ghouls,


     Of centuries rushing from the poles—
     Old Year, what mean these spectral shoals!

And knowing nothing, we would cling
     Like beggars to thy garment’s hem,
     Loose leaves upon a withered stem,


We fear what the next breath may bring.
     Old Year, thou’rt passing from my side,
     There is a bark upon the tide
     O’er which thy ghost prepar’st to ride—
     Old Year, put on thy ancient pride!


Oh! cold and heartless is the wind,
     And colder are the heartless stars,
     White Death within their icy cars,
And Darkness clambering up behind,
     The cold moon smiles more coldly still,


     Colder each frozen mount and hill,
     Bleak rolls the storm, the snow flakes chill—
     Old Year, why standest thou so still?

Why tremblest thou?  Is Death so nigh?
     Where are the souls which thou hast made


     So happy?  Are there none to aid?
Is there no help in all the sky!
     Gather thy garments close, Old Year,
     There is an end to all thy cheer, [Page 93]
     A deep voice calls—dost thou not hear?


     Farewell! for we must part, Old Year!

Gather thy robes about thy limbs,
     Remember thy ancestral fame,
     Pass bravely on to whence you came,
While shouts the storm its passion-hymns.


     So! thou hast vanished like a King,
     Thou hast found Death a living thing,
     To which brave souls most bravely cling—
     See! where he sits—a Spirit-King. [Page 94]