Thoughtful Thursday: The New Year’s Edition

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Thoughtful Thursday: The New Year’s Edition

It’s the last Thoughtful Thursday of 2018! (Never mind that it is making its appearance on Friday; in 2019 we will do better.) Today’s Thoughtful Thursday features New Year’s poems. We begin with “Song for the New Year” by Eliza Cook, which reminds us to be thankful and hopeful as we move into a new year. Next we have “A Song for New Year’s Eve” in which William Cullen Bryant savors the bittersweet memories of a year’s passing. In “Remember”, Native American poet Joy Harjo reminds us to appreciate all aspects of life as we look to the new year. And finally, in “Good Bones”, Maggie Smith provides a wry, real yet hopeful parental perspective on what we tell our children in the new year. While this last one is not actually a New Year’s poem, it is a great one for parents to read as we spend time with our children over the holidays. Share with your children (except perhaps for the last one), and enjoy.

And Happy New Year to you all from GCP!!!! Thanks so much for reading and following, and look for some exciting upgrades in 2019!

Song for the New Year

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.

Eliza Cook, 1818 – 1889

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.

William Cullen Bryant, 1794 – 1878


Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
are you.
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.

Joy Harjo, 1951

Good Bones

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.

Maggie Smith

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