Song for the New Year

Eliza Cook - 1818-1889
Old Time has turned another page
      Of eternity and truth;
He reads with a warning voice to age,
      And whispers a lesson to youth.
A year has fled o’er heart and head
      Since last the yule log burnt;
And we have a task to closely ask,
      What the bosom and brain have learnt?
Oh! let us hope that our sands have run
      With wisdom’s precious grains;
Oh! may we find that our hands have done
      Some work of glorious pains.
Then a welcome and cheer to the merry new year,
      While the holly gleams above us;
With a pardon for the foes who hate,
      And a prayer for those who love us.

We may have seen some loved ones pass
      To the land of hallow’d rest;
We may miss the flow of an honest brow
      And the warmth of a friendly breast:
But if we nursed them while on earth,
      With hearts all true and kind,
Will their spirits blame the sinless mirth
      Of those true hearts left behind?
No, no! it were not well or wise
      To mourn with endless pain;
There’s a better world beyond the skies,
      Where the good shall meet again.
Then a welcome and cheer to the merry new year.
      While the holly gleams above us;
With a pardon for the foes who hate,
      And a prayer for those who love us.

Have our days rolled on serenely free
      From sorrow’s dim alloy?
Do we still possess the gifts that bless
      And fill our souls with joy?
Are the creatures dear still clinging near?
      Do we hear loved voices come?
Do we gaze on eyes whose glances shed
      A halo round our home?
Oh, if we do, let thanks be pour’d
      To Him who hath spared and given,
And forget not o’er the festive board
      The mercies held from heaven.
Then a welcome and cheer to the merry new year,
      While the holly gleams above us;
With a pardon for the foes who hate,
      And a prayer for those who love us.

More by Eliza Cook

The Old Arm-Chair

I love it, I love it; and who shall dare
To chide me for loving that old arm-chair?
I’ve treasured it long as a sainted prize,
I’ve bedew’d it with tears, and embalmed it with sighs;
’Tis bound by a thousand bands to my heart;
Not a tie will break, not a link will start.
Would ye learn the spell? a mother sat there,
And a sacred thing is that old arm-chair.

In childhood’s hour I linger’d near
The hallow’d seat with list’ning ear;
And gentle words that mother would give,
To fit me to die and teach me to live.
She told me shame would never betide,
With truth for my creed and God for my guide;
She taught me to lisp my earliest prayer,
As I knelt beside that old arm-chair.

I sat and watch’d her many a day,
When her eye grew dim, and her locks were grey;
And I almost worshipp’d her when she smil’d
And turn’d from her Bible to bless her child.
Years roll’d on, but the last one sped—
My idol was shatter’d, my earth-star fled;
I learnt how much the heart can bear,
When I saw her die in that old arm-chair.

’Tis past! ’tis past! but I gaze on it now
With quivering breath and throbbing brow:
’Twas there she nursed me, ’twas there she died;
And memory flows with lava tide.
Say it is folly, and deem me weak,
While the scalding drops start down my cheek;
But I love it, I love it, and cannot tear
My soul from a mother’s old arm-chair.

Spring

Welcome, all hail to thee!
     Welcome, young Spring!
Thy sun-ray is bright
     On the butterfly’s wing.
Beauty shines forth
     In the blossom-robed trees;
Perfume floats by
     On the soft southern breeze.

Music, sweet music,
     Sounds over the earth;
One glad choral song
     Greets the primrose’s birth;
The lark soars above,
     With its shrill matin strain;
The shepherd boy tunes
     His reed pipe on the plain.

Music, sweet music,
     Cheers meadow and lea;—
In the song of the blackbird,
     The hum of the bee;
The loud happy laughter
     Of children at play
Proclaim how they worship
     Spring’s beautiful day.

The eye of the hale one,
     With joy in its gleam,
Looks up in the noontide,
     And steals from the beam;
But the cheek of the pale one
     Is mark’d with despair,
To feel itself fading,
     When all is so fair.

The hedges, luxuriant
     With flowers and balm,
Are purple with violets,
     And shaded with palm;
The zephyr-kiss’d grass
     Is beginning to wave;
Fresh verdure is decking
     The garden and grave.

Welcome! all hail to thee,
     Heart-stirring May!
Thou hast won from my wild harp
     A rapturous lay.
And the last dying murmur
     That sleeps on the string
Is welcome! All hail to thee,
     Welcome, young Spring!

Winter

We know ’tis good that old Winter should come,
Roving awhile from his Lapland home;
’Tis fitting that we should hear the sound
Of his reindeer sledge on the slippery ground:

For his wide and glittering cloak of snow
Protects the seeds of life below;
Beneath his mantle are nurtured and born
The roots of the flowers, the germs of the corn.

The whistling tone of his pure strong breath
Rides purging the vapours of pestilent death.
I love him, I say, and avow it again,
For God’s wisdom and might show well in his train.

But the naked—the poor! I know they quail
With crouching limbs from the biting gale;
They pine and starve by the fireless hearth,
And weep as they gaze on the frost-bound earth.

Stand nobly forth, ye rich of the land,
With kindly heart and bounteous hand;
Remember ’tis now their season of need,
And a prayer for help is a call ye must heed.

A few of thy blessings, a tithe of thy gold,
Will save the young, and cherish the old.
’Tis a glorious task to work such good—
Do it, ye great ones! Ye can, and ye should.

He is not worthy to hold from heaven
The trust reposed, the talents given,
Who will not add to the portion that’s scant,
In the pinching hours of cold and want.

Oh! listen in mercy, ye sons of wealth,
Basking in comfort and glowing with health;
Give whate’er ye can spare, and be ye sure
He serveth his Maker who aideth the poor.

Related Poems

A Song for New Year's Eve

Stay yet, my friends, a moment stay— 
     Stay till the good old year, 
So long companion of our way, 
     Shakes hands, and leaves us here. 
          Oh stay, oh stay, 
One little hour, and then away.

The year, whose hopes were high and strong, 
     Has now no hopes to wake; 
Yet one hour more of jest and song 
     For his familiar sake. 
          Oh stay, oh stay, 
One mirthful hour, and then away.  

The kindly year, his liberal hands 
     Have lavished all his store. 
And shall we turn from where he stands, 
     Because he gives no more? 
          Oh stay, oh stay, 
One grateful hour, and then away.  

Days brightly came and calmly went, 
     While yet he was our guest; 
How cheerfully the week was spent! 
     How sweet the seventh day's rest! 
          Oh stay, oh stay, 
One golden hour, and then away.  

Dear friends were with us, some who sleep 
     Beneath the coffin-lid: 
What pleasant memories we keep 
     Of all they said and did! 
          Oh stay, oh stay, 
One tender hour, and then away.  

Even while we sing, he smiles his last, 
     And leaves our sphere behind. 
The good old year is with the past; 
     Oh be the new as kind! 
          Oh stay, oh stay, 
One parting strain, and then away.