01 January 2020

'Welcoming the New Year' by Arthur Weir

      We gathered, a jovial party,
            Together on New Year's eve,
      To welcome the coming monarch
            And to see the old one leave. 
      We chatted around the fireside,
            And wondered what time would bring:
      We had not a tear for the parting year,
            But longed for the coming king. 
      For youth reaches ever forward,
            And drops from its eager clasp
      The realized gifts of fortune,
            Some phantom of hope to grasp. 
      Soon a maiden spoke of the custom,
            Now lapsed in this age of prose,
      To open the door for the New Year
            The instant the Old Year goes; 
      Then, leaving the door wide open,
            To stand in the silent street
      And, with a generous "welcome,"
            The entering guest to greet. 
      It suited our youthful fancy,
            And, when the glad chimes began,
      From our cosy nook by the fireside
            Down into the street we ran. 
      And, far and near, we all could hear
      The great bells ringing out the year,
            And, as they tolled, the music rolled,
            Hoarse-sounding, over town and wold. 
      "The year is dead," Gros Bourdon said,
      The clanging echoes quivering fled,
            And, far and wide, on every side,
            The bells to one another cried. 
      The mountain woke, and from its cloak
      Shook off the echoes, stroke for stroke.
            Then silence fell on hill and bell,
            And echoes ceased to sink and swell. 
      Standing beside the door wide open thrown,
      Her voice more musical than any bird's,
            And with a winning sweetness all its own,
            Our Queen thus winged her joyous thoughts with words: 
      "Ring out, bells, ring! Sing, mountain, sing!
      The king is dead, long live the king!
            Now fast, now slow; now loud, now low,
            Send out your chimes across the snow. 
      "Old Year, adieu; welcome the New,
      The door stands open here for you.
            Come in, come in, the bells begin
            To falter in their merry din." 
      Then, as the great bells ceased to swing, two broke
            A silver coin, for luck in days to come,
      And though no tender words of love they spoke,
            Yet hearts speak best when most the lips are dumb.

from Fleurs de Lys and Other Poems
Arthur Weir
Montreal: E.M. Renouf, 1884

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