New Year’s Verses

Addressed to the customers of the Freeman's Journal, by the Lad who carries it
January 7, 1784

Blest be the man who early prov’d
    And first contriv’d to make it clear
That Time upon a dial mov’d,
    And trac’d that circle call’d a year;

Ere he arose, the savage, man,
    No bounds to years or seasons knew,
On Nature’s book his reckoning ran,
    And social festivals were few.

In after days, when folks grew wise
    New wonderments were daily found,
Systems they built on pumpkin pies,
    And prov’d that every thing went round.

Experience shows they reason’d right,
    (With laurels we their tombs should crown)
For half the world is in such plight
    That one would swear it upside down.

Now I am one, (and pray attend)
    Who, marching in a smaller sphere,
To set you right, my service lend,
    By bringing Papers through the year,

Which to your Honours may impart
    A thousand new invented schemes,
The works of wit, and toils of art,
    News, commerce, politics, and dreams:

Though in a sheet, at random cast,
    Our motley knowledge we dispose,
From such a mass, in ages past,
    Have less substantial fabrics rose;

The Sybil wise, as Virgil says,
    Her writings to the leaves consign’d,
Which soon were borne a thousand ways,
    Derang’d and scatter’d by the wind.

Not such neglect in me is seen—
    Soon as my leaves have left the press
I haste to bring them, neat and clean,
    At all times in a New Year’s dress.

Though winds their ancient spite retain,
    And strive to tear them from my hold,
I bear them safe through wind and rain,
    Despising heat, despising cold.

While thus employ’d, from week to week,
    You surely will not think it hard
If, with the rest, I come to seek
    Some humble token of regard.

Nor will you deem my conduct strange
    If what I long have thought be true—
That life itself is constant change,
    And death, the want of something new.

This poem is in the public domain.