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Poem by Alice Dunbar-Nelson


New Year's Day


THE poor old year died hard; for all the earth lay cold
   And bare beneath the wintry sky;
While grey clouds scurried madly to the west,
   And hid the chill young moon from mortal sight.
Deep, dying groans the aged year breathed forth,
   In soughing winds that wailed a requiem sad
In dull crescendo through the mournful air.

The new year now is welcomed noisily
   With din and song and shout and clanging bell,
And all the glare and blare of fiery fun.
Sing high the welcome to the New Year's morn!
   Le roi est mort. Vive, vive le roi!* cry out,
And hail the new-born king of coming days.

Alas! the day is spent and eve draws nigh;
The king's first subject dies--for naught,
And wasted moments by the hundred score
   Of past years rise like spectres grim
To warn, that these days may not idly glide away.
Oh, New Year, youth of promise fair!
   What dost thou hold for me? An aching heart?
Or eyes burnt blind by unshed tears? Or stabs,
   More keen because unseen?
Nay, nay, dear youth, I've had surfeit
   Of sorrow's feast. The monarch dead
Did rule me with an iron hand. Be thou a friend,
   A tender, loving king--and let me know
The ripe, full sweetness of a happy year. 

* The King is Dead, Long live the king!



                      Alice Dunbar-Nelson


Alice Dunbar-Nelson's other poems:
  1. At Bay St. Louis
  2. A Pliant
  3. The Idler


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