Verse > Anthologies > James and Mary Ford, eds. > Every Day in the Year
James and Mary Ford, eds.  Every Day in the Year.  1902.
January 1
The Last of the New Year’s Callers
By Henry Cuyler Bunner (1855–1896)
          The story of an old man, an old man’s friendship, and a new card-basket.

THE DOOR is shut—I think the fine old face
  Trembles a little, round the under lip:
His look is wistful—can it be the place
  Where, at his knock, the bolt was quick to slip
(It had a knocker then), when, bravely decked,        5
  He took, of New Year’s, with his lowest bow,
His glass of egg-nog, white and nutmeg-flecked,
  From her who is—where is the young bride now?
O Greenwood, answer! Through your ample gate
  There went a hearse, these many years ago;        10
And often by a grave—more oft of late—
  Stands an old gentleman, with hair like snow.
Two graves he stands by, truly; for the friend
  Who won her, long has lain beside his wife;
And their old comrade, waiting for the end,        15
  Remembers what they were to him in life.
And now he stands before the old-time door,
  A little gladdened in his lonely heart
To give of love for those that are no more
  To those that live to-day a generous part.        20
Ay, She has gone, sweet, loyal, brave and gay—
  But then, her daughter’s grown and wed the while;
And the old custom lingers: New Year’s Day.
  Will not she greet him with her mother’s smile?
But things are changed, ah, changed, you see;        25
We keep no New Year’s now, not we—
    It’s an old-time day,
    And an old-time way,
And an old-time fashion we’ve chosen to cut—
    And the dear old man        30
    May wait as he can
In front of the old-time door that’s shut.

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