Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VI. Fancy: Sentiment
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VI. Fancy.  1904.
 
Poems of Sentiment: I. Time
The Old Year and the New
William Cleaver Wilkinson (1833–1920)
 
LAST night at twelve, amid the knee-deep snows,
A child of Time accepted his repose,—
The eighteen hundred fifty-sixth of grace,
With sudden chance, fell forward on his face.
 
Solemn and slow the winter sun had gone,        5
Sailing full early for the port of dawn;
Across broad zones of the ethereal sea,
With even rate he voyaged far and free,
While the cone-shadow of the earth swept round
The other half of heaven’s embracing bound—        10
A weird and mystic dial-hand to mark,
From orb to orb, along the shuddering arc,
Measured to music of the sphery chime,
The noiseless process of eternal time.
 
I walked in doubt and dread—as if the weight        15
Of all the impending heaven upon me sate:
The crisp snow creaked, my breath pushed stiffly out,
And keen frost-sparkles merrily glanced about;
The clear cold stars reached down a frory ray,
Like a fine icicle accrete of spray,        20
That pricked my blood with many a light attack
Of Lilliput lances in my front and back,
For every several nerve alive to feel
The eager season had some shrewd appeal.
 
And so the fields I gained, and there I found        25
The fresh dry snow laid by that querulous sound,
And all grew still as death. Within my breast
Hushing the noisy heart-beat, on I pressed.
 
The punctual shadow to the summit drew;
Twelve strokes of lighter silence fell like dew,        30
Audible to the spirit, and behold,
The vision of the Dead Year was unrolled.
Full length he leaned aslant the slumbering snow,
Which clad all things in Chinese weeds of woe,
Easing his fall—that not a breath might mar        35
The listening awe that yearned from snow to star.
 
But over him a spirit fair doth smile,
As fain all grief with gladness to beguile;
A torch he bears to light the world anew—
O blithe Young Year, but keep thy promise true!        40
 
 
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