Before The New Year, A Poem For The Old Year

new year

Not long now til the bells welcome in the New Year!

As 2019 draws to a close, here’s a reflective poem from 1881, by “Friend” favourite, Annie S. Swan.

In our 150th Fiction Special, we featured another of Annie’s poems, “The Dream”, which was originally published in 1941 — a remarkable sixty years after this one.

With nine verses, this poem is a little longer than our poetry nowadays, but the sentiment — hoping for peace on earth and goodwill among men — still rings true today.

The Old Year


The air is chill and frosty

On this bleak December day,

And the grey sea sobs and tosses

Beyond the wintry bay.


The wild, discordant screaming

Of the sea birds on the wing,

Gives the mariner timely warning

Of the storm the night will bring.


The newly upturned furrows

Are black with the hungry crows;

In the leafless trees the robins

Sit shivering on the boughs,


And the wind in the lonely pinewood

Stirs the trees with a dreary moan –

A dirge for the bygone summer,

And the year that is almost done.


For the sad old year is dying

In the chill December air;

Oh, pause in your sorrow of gladness,

And utter a passing prayer!


Oh, think what a record he carries

What a burden of sorrow and care!

Of vows and of promises broken,

Of which we have all had a share.


The sad old year is dying,

And the new is sweeping in;

God grant it may bring blessing

And healing on its wing!


That men may see the beauty

Of love to a brother man,

That the truths of the grand old lesson,

Heard since the world began,


May scatter the mists and the shadows,

The feud and the bitter strife,

And show to the earth’s erring children

A new and higher life.


For more content from “The People’s Friend” archives, click the tag below.

Lucy Crichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!