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New Year Quotations

Welcome to my page of new year quotes. Depending on where you are from — in time, geography, and culture — the new year can mean the end of autumn, the winter solstice, the first of January, or the beginning of spring. For many it is a time to honor and reflect on the past, let go, and celebrate the potential of the future. However or whenever you observe your new year, I hope you enjoy these literary harvests!  —ღ Terri

Another year! Use it kindly; you will not have it long, and almost ere you are aware, it will be past. ~Charles F. Raymond, "This Banner Year," Just Be Glad, 1907

It seems sometimes that there is no such thing as New Year — it is only the old year come back. ~Elbert Hubbard, "Harriet Martineau," Little Journeys to the Homes of Famous Women, 1897

If it were January first, now, I could think up any number of inspiring New Year sentiments to get started off with; sermons based on the three R's to be met with most often at this season — Regrets, Resolves and Reforms. Sometimes there is a fourth R which follows quickly on the heels of these — Returns, to the old habits. ~Kate Trimble Sharber (b.1883), At the Age of Eve, 1911

Some people are looking forward to a Christmas they'll never forget — and a New Year's Eve they'll never remember. ~Author unknown, quoted by Earl Wilson, 1968

Youth is when you are allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve. Middle age is when you are forced to. ~Bill Vaughn (1915–1977), "Senator Soaper Says," 1958  []

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves. ~Bill Vaughan (1915–1977), in The Kansas City Star, as quoted by The Reader's Digest

A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other. ~Executive's Treasury of Humor for Every Occasion by William R. Gerler, 1965  [Restatement of a 1953 T. Harry Thompson quote: "A calendar, as I said for an advertiser recently, is something that goes in one year and out the other. But, there's a certain stimulus about a new year… to a nation, a business, an individual. You sense it the moment the whistles and bells sound-off at midnight on December 31." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Be at War with your Vices, at Peace with your Neighbours, and let every New-Year find you a better Man. ~Quoted in Benjamin Franklin's 1755 Poor Richard's Almanack, December  []

Every man hath two birth-days: two days, at least, in every year, which set him upon revolving the lapse of time, as it affects his mortal duration. The one is that which in an especial manner he termeth his. In the gradual desuetude of old observances, this custom of solemnizing our proper birth-day hath nearly passed away; or is left to children, who reflect nothing at all about the matter, nor understand any thing in it beyond cake and orange. But the birth of a New Year is of an interest too wide to be pretermitted by king or cobbler. No one ever regarded the First of January with indifference. It is that from which all date their time, and count upon what is left. It is the nativity of our common Adam. ~Charles Lamb (1775–1834), "New Year's Eve," in The London Magazine, January 1821  [This quote has been popularized to "New Year's Day is every man's birthday," but I've not found that wording in any of Lamb's works. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Every man should be born again on the first of January. Start with a fresh page. Take up one hole more in the buckle, if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but, on the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take interest in the things that are and are to be, and not in the things that were and are past. ~Henry Ward Beecher (1813–1887), "A Completed Year," 1882 December 31st, quoted in Plymouth Pulpit: A Weekly Publication of Sermons Preached by Henry Ward Beecher in Plymouth Church, Brooklyn, Vol. V, Printed from Mr. T.J. Ellinwood's Stenographic Reports

      Last night, between eleven and twelve o'clock... the Old Year was leaving her final foot-prints on the borders of Time's empire.... she thus awaited the midnight knell that was to summon her to the innumerable sisterhood of departed years....
      The New Year.... greeted the disconsolate Old Year with great affection, and sat down beside her... waiting for the signal to begin her rambles through the world. The two were own sisters, being both grand-daughters of Time; and though one looked so much older than the other, it was rather owing to hardships and trouble than to age, since there was but a twelve-month's difference between them.
      ~Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864), "The Sister Years," Carrier's Address to Patrons of the Salem Gazette, 1839 January 1st

      "I have a fine lot of hopes here in my basket," remarked the New Year. "They are a sweet-smelling flower—a species of rose."
      "They soon lose their perfume," replied the sombre Old Year. "What else have you brought to insure a welcome from the discontented race of mortals?"
      ~Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864), "The Sister Years," Carrier's Address to Patrons of the Salem Gazette, 1839 January 1st

"Happy New-year! happy New-year!" It is the day of hope and a fresh beginning. Old debts shall be forgiven; old feuds forgotten; old friendships revived. To‑day shall be better than yesterday. The good vows shall be kept. A blessing shall be wrung from the fleet angel Opportunity. There shall be more patience, more courage, more faith; the dream shall become life; to‑day shall wear the glamour of to‑morrow. Ring out the old, ring in the new! ~George William Curtis (1824–1892), "Editor's Easy Chair," Harper's New Monthly Magazine, January 1887  [In the 1893 publication of his essays, this piece is titled "The New Year." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

While the bald trees stretch forth their long lank arms...
And nought more gladsome in the hedge is seen,
Than the dark holly's grimly glistening green—
At such a time, the ancient year goes by
To join its parents in eternity—
At such a time the merry year is born,
Like the bright berry from the naked thorn.
~Hartley Coleridge (1796–1849), "New-Year's Day," Poems, 1833

Time, the years, the seasons, the dreaming and the hopes which throb with life even under the ice and snow. There is an order to all things, a pressure of progression, and the winds themselves will die into nothingness and the tides wither away before the hopes shall have ended, the aspirations frozen forever. Year builds upon year, even as the seasons follow. And year's end is no end at all, but only a pause, a time for the deep breath that marks the next step forward. There is no halt, no turning back. Tomorrow rises in the east, and all the tomorrows. ~Hal Borland (1900–1978), "The Song of Time," 1945 December 31st

Then out through the gates of the midnight—
      The door of the past was ajar—
      His robe like a shroud wrapped around him,
      The Old Year vanished afar.
And as morn with her soft rosy fingers
      Flung open the gates of the East,
      The New Year looked out from its chambers
      With a smile and a blessing of peace.
~Eliza A. Wetherby Otis (1833–1904), "The Old and the New," December 1873, in Daily Ohio State Journal (Columbus), 1874 January 1st

The fire has burned low. The Old Year has gone. Let the dead past bury its own dead. The New Year has taken possession of the clock of time. All hail the duties and possibilities of the coming twelve months! Yet I do not see anything new about it. It is already fringed at the edges with inherited aches and unsolved problems.... O 1911! do your duty! ~Edward Payson Powell (1832–1915), "The New Year In: An Idyll," 1910 December 31st (Sorrento, Florida), in The Independent, 1911 January 5th

My pipe is out, my glass is dry;
My fire is almost ashes too;
But once again, before you go,
And I prepare to meet the New:
Old Year! a parting word that's true,
For we've been comrades, you and I —
I thank God for each day of you;
There! bless you now! Old Year, good-bye!
~Robert W. Service, "The Passing of the Year," 1912

It is 9 o'clock, and I am sitting before the big fireplace in my library, where the pine knots are fast becoming ashes. Why not? Yes, why not see the Old Year out and the New Year in? I will pile more knots on the embers, and, leaning back in my chair, will see how the two years are mortised together. Why should I not help to look after these things, for I have had nearly eighty of these years, and every one of them chock full of gifts and goodness? I will have nothing to do with the doleful dolts, who count their troubles and see only what is missing. Tonight I shall see God tinkering at the joints of the years. Have you any idea how many years are locked together in one of these pine knots? Different trees, like different folk, vary in power to carry bruises and scratches. Early in life I learned there were two sides to everything, and I resolved that I would see always the bright side; I would stand as close as I could to God, and get his angle of vision. The more I see of the world, the more I am sure there is sunshine enough to go around. After all and thru it all, to make life worth the while, what we must have and make for health and growth, is soul-shine. ~Edward Payson Powell (1832–1915), "The New Year In: An Idyll," 1910 December 31st (Sorrento, Florida), in The Independent, 1911 January 5th  [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

The bells ring out; the hoary steeple rocks—
Hark! the long story of a score of clocks;
For, once a year, the village clocks agree,
E'en clocks unite to sound the hour of glee—
And every cottage has a light awake,
Unusual stars long flicker o'er the lake.
~Hartley Coleridge (1796–1849), "New-Year's Day," Poems, 1833

The relentless punctuality, the unwearied urgency, of old Time, who turns his hour-glass with such a sonorous ring on New-year's Day... ~George William Curtis (1824–1892), "Editor's Easy Chair," Harper's New Monthly Magazine, January 1887

Comes now a smiling New-Born Year
To fill to-day with goodly cheer—
An infant hale and lusty.
Upon our door-sill he is left
By Daddy Time, of clothes bereft
Despite the season gusty.
If he be Churl or doughty Knight,
A Son of Darkness or of Light
No man can tell, God bless him!
But be he base or glorious
Time puts it wholly up to us
To dress him!
~John Kendrick Bangs (1862-1922), "The New-Born Year" (January First), The Cheery Way: A Bit of Verse For Every Day, 1920

I fear thee not, O untried morrow! ~Julia B. Cady (d.1869), "New-Year Thoughts," in Sabbath at Home, January 1870

The New Year cometh with a magic key,
To ope some radiant chamber in Time's palace...
Beneath old Winter's snows a world of hope
Lies ripening, and shall richly run to flowers...
~Gerald Massey (1828–1907), "New Year's Eve in Exile"

Christmas-day is the pleasantest day in the whole year. On that day we think tenderly of distant friends; we strive to forgive injuries—to close accounts with ourselves and the world—to begin the new year with a white leaf, and a trust that the chapter of life about to be written will contain more notable entries, a fairer sprinkling of good actions, fewer erasures made in blushes, and fewer ugly blots than some of the earlier ones. ~Alexander Smith (1829–1867), "Winter," 1863

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!
~William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878), "A Song for New Year's Eve," 1857

Average life of a good resolution — Twenty minutes. ~Charles Searle, Look Here!, 1885

O good New Year, we clasp
This warm shut hand of thine,
Loosing for ever, with half sigh, half gasp,
That which from ours falls like dead fingers' twine:
Ay, whether fierce its grasp
Has been, or gentle, having been, we know
That it was blessed: let the Old Year go.
~Dinah Maria Craik (1826–1887), "A Psalm for New Year's Eve," 1855  ["The author of 'John Halifax, Gentleman,' has written to her publishers to say that she does not wish her name to appear as it usually does, Dinah Muloch Craik, but as Dinah Maria Craik. The fashion of retaining one's family surname after marriage is peculiarly American. In England they drop it, and retain the middle name." The Critic, 1883 December 8th —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

A Happy New Year! There is a glow of cheer and optimism in the very words "New Year." The old year, with its anxieties and worries, is over. It too brought happy days and sunshine, and in memory we must cherish the bright places. ~May Louise Crane, "Poet-O-Grams," American Poetry Magazine, January 1934

I wait in the dusk of the vanishing years,
I list to the tread of their lingering feet...
~Josephine Butterfield Walcott (1840–1906), "On New Year's Eve," World of Song, 1878

New Year's Day—Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink, and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient shortcomings considerably shorter than ever. We shall also reflect pleasantly upon how we did the same old thing last year about this time. However, go in, community. New Year's is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls, and humbug resolutions, and we wish you to enjoy it with a looseness suited to the greatness of the occasion. ~Mark Twain (1835–1910), in Territorial Enterprise, 1863 January 1st

This year's book, at midnight
turns to footnote in the next.
~Terri Guillemets

      1. A Wise Man should never resolve upon any thing, at least never let the World know his Resolution, for if he cannot arrive at that, he is asham'd....
      2. Never tell your Resolution before hand; but when the Cast is thrown, Play it as well as you can to win the Game you are at.
      ~John Selden (1584–1654), "Wisedom," Table-talk, published posthumously, 1689  [There is a quote going around, "Never tell your resolution beforehand, or it's twice as onerous a duty," but I find it not in Selden's works, nor any other's. It appears to be an anonymous and recent repurposing of Selden's quotation. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

When then is lost, as time is by,
we look upon the yearly wine
to see our substance in the lees.
Did tribe and purse most pleasing leave?
To look for clear and faithful sense,
that gives a bodied stance bouquet,
then see the vat at mirror's face
and find in it, the yearly pace.
~E. Marshall, "Vintner Epilogue (Happy Old Year)," 2008

Many years ago I resolved never to bother with New Year's resolutions, and I've stuck with it ever since. ~David J. Beard (1947–2016), tweet, 2009 December 31st

I am fading from you,
      But one draweth near,
      Called the Angel-guardian
      Of the coming year.
If my gifts and graces
      Coldly you forget,
      Let the New Year's Angel
      Bless and crown them yet...
May you hold this Angel
      Dearer than the last,—
      So, I bless his Future,
      While he crowns my Past.
~Adelaide A. Procter (1825–1864), "The Old Year's Blessing," A Chaplet of Verses, 1862  [Procter, a philanthropist, published her book of poems for the benefit of The Providence Row Night Refuge for Homeless Women and Children. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

I have always liked the idea of hearing the clock strike twelve on the last night of the old year.... wakeful to welcome the new year's angel when the old one has winged his flight from us, bearing with him the record of our inner years, its sins and sorrows. ~Claribel (Charlotte Alington Pye Barnard, 1830–1869), "New Year's Eve," Fireside Thoughts, Ballads, etc., etc., 1865

A worthy New Year's resolution, perhaps, is to take no hatred into the New Year without requiring it to restate its purpose. ~Robert Brault,

Lo! on the rapid wings of Time,
Another changing year has flown...
~Edward George Kent, "On the Past Year," Nineveh, 1859

But then I do think New Year's resolutions can't technically be expected to begin on New Year's Day, don't you? Since, because it's an extension of New Year's Eve, smokers are already on a smoking roll and cannot be expected to stop abruptly on the stroke of midnight with so much nicotine in the system. Also dieting on New Year's Day isn't a good idea as you can't eat rationally but really need to be free to consume whatever is necessary, moment by moment, in order to ease your hangover. I think it would be much more sensible if resolutions began generally on January the second. ~Helen Fielding (b.1958), "Sunday 1 January," Bridget Jones's Diary, 1996

For 'tis the season, when the nights are long,
There's time, e'er morn, for each to sing his song.
The year departs, a blessing on its head,
We mourn not for it, for it is not dead:
Dead? What is that? A word to joy unknown,
Which love abhors, and faith will never own.
~Hartley Coleridge (1796–1849), "New-Year's Day," Poems, 1833

There is too much said at New Year's about turning over a new leaf. Are the old leaves all so badly written that we must hasten to forget them? Is the blank whiteness of the untouched page more pleasant to the eye or more fortifying to the will than those closely written, underlined, untidy, but familiar pages which make up the story of one's life? ~Bliss Perry, "Turning the Old Leaves, The Atlantic Monthly, January 1907

Now the year is dying fast...
All his children stand around...
Twelve there are: I dimly mark
All their figures in the dark,
Hovering near the patriarch...
Pressing the year's death-cold brow,
I rose up with many a vow.
~Caroline May (1820–c.1891), a.k.a. Caromaia, "The Dying Year's Counsels," in The Christian Treasury, 1880

All the west, whereon the sunset sealed the dead year's glorious grave
Fast with seals of light and fire and cloud that light and fire illume,
Glows at heart and kindles earth and heaven with joyous blush and bloom,
Warm and wide as life, and glad of death that only slays to save...
~Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837–1909), "Sunset and Moonrise" (New Year's Eve, 1889)  ["No Englishman will need to be reminded of the date on which Westminster Abbey was honoured by the funeral of Robert Browning." The Athenæum —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Farewell, Old Year! the rustle of whose garment,
      Fragrant with memory, I still can hear:
      For all thy tender kindness and thy bounty
      I drop my thankful tribute on thy bier.
What is in store for me, brave New Year, hidden
      Beneath thy glistening robe of ice and snows?
      Are there sweet songs of birds, and breath of lilacs,
      And blushing blooms of June's scent-laden rose?...
~Julia B. Cady (d.1869), "New-Year Thoughts," in Sabbath at Home, January 1870

A spirit haunts the year's last hours
Dwelling amid these yellowing bowers...
The air is damp, and hush'd, and close,
As a sick man's room when he taketh repose
      An hour before death;
My very heart faints and my whole soul grieves
At the moist rich smell of the rotting leaves,
      And the breath
      Of the fading edges of box beneath,
And the year's last rose...
~Alfred Tennyson (1809–1892), "Song," Poems, 1830

But can one still make resolutions when one is over forty? I live according to twenty-year-old habits. ~André Gide (1869–1951), journal, 1912, translated from French (second Pléiade edition) by Justin O'Brien

Thus it is, and so it goes;
We shall have our day, my dear.
Where, unwilling, dies the rose
Buds the new, another year.
~Dorothy Parker, "Recurrence," Enough Rope, 1926

The cycle completes again. Twelve moons have
Proved true the predictions of almanac...
~Cave Outlaw (1900–1996), "Year's End," Fugitive Hour, 1950

The old year dies and we face the new year as though it were an entity, new as a newborn babe. A new calendar with twelve leaves, one for each month. Something in us, some need for the specific, the orderly, the mathematical exactitude, calls for such demarcation. Yet any year, regardless of arbitrary time, is like a circle; you can start at any point upon it and, following the circle, you come back to that point. Our year, our circle, happens to be a cycle of the seasons, planting, growing, reaping, resting; and thus it is a part of the earth, the soil and the flowing waters as well as of the stars by which it is gauged.... And year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. ~Hal Borland (1900–1978), "The Tomorrows," 1952 December 30th

Charlie Brown:  Well, this is it, the last day of the year, and I did it again.
Linus:  Did what?
Charlie Brown:  I blew another year!
~Charles M. Schulz, Peanuts, 1968

For to-night is the last day of the olden year:
And ages and cycles long bygone,
They are circling around and hovering near;
They have woven his robe and twined his crown,
And are waiting about to carry him down....
So the Old Year sits with his friends together,
And they scoff in their hearts at the surly weather.
~J.J. Britton (1832–1913), "The Old Year and the New," c.1855

He is dead, he is dead, and his requiem swells
As in turret and tower a thousand bells
Ring and swing with a clangorous din,
And the wild winds carry the New Year in.
~J.J. Britton (1832–1913), "The Old Year and the New," c.1855

Of all sound of all bells—(bells, the music most bordering upon heaven)—most solemn and touching is the peal which rings out the Old Year. I never hear it without a gathering-up of my mind to a concentration of all the images that have been diffused over the past twelvemonth; all I have done, or suffered; performed, or neglected; in that regretted time. I begin to know its worth, as when a person dies. It takes a personal colour.... It is no more than what in sober sadness every one of us seems to be conscious of in that awful leave-taking. ~Charles Lamb (1775–1834), "New Year's Eve," in The London Magazine, January 1821  [In the 1838 Works, this essay is titled "Newyear's Eve." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Lord, as the New Year dawns today,
      Help me to put my faults away.
      Let me be big in little things;
      Grant me the joy which friendship brings;
      Keep me from selfishness and spite,
      Let me be wise to what is right.
A Happy New Year! grant that I
      May cause no tear to any eye.
      When this new year in time shall end,
      Let it be said: "I've played the friend,
      Have lived and loved and labored here
      And made of it a happy year."
~Edgar Guest (1881–1959), "Prayer for the New Year"

      Since, then, we cannot stop the flight of Time, let him pass. But he must not calumniate as he passes. He must not be allowed to stigmatize vigor and health and freshness of feeling and the young heart and the agile foot as old merely because of a certain number of years. This is the season of good resolutions. The new year begins in a snow-storm of white vows. So be it. But let our whitest vow be, after that for a whiter life, that age shall no longer be measured by this arbitrary standard of years, and that those deceitful and practical octogenarians of thirty shall not escape as young merely because they have not yet shown the strength to carry threescore and ten with jocund elasticity.
      Then Happy New-year shall not mean Good-night, but Good-morrow. ~George William Curtis (1824–1892), "Editor's Easy Chair," Harper's New Monthly Magazine, January 1887

Old Year! upon the Stage of Time
You stand to bow your last adieu;
A moment, and the prompter's chime
Will ring the curtain down on you.
Your mien is sad, your step is slow;
You falter as a Sage in pain;
Yet turn, Old Year, before you go,
And face your audience again.
~Robert W. Service, "The Passing of the Year," 1912

      Soon we will have completed our annual list of good intentions. Across the country there are millions of cigarettes waiting to be stomped out, tons of fat waiting to be lost, miles to be run, lives to be organized, selves to be improved.
      Once again, we will pass resolutions as if we were our own Congress, legislating changes in our lives. On a million scraps of paper, we will publish an updated catalog of promises to be filed on the shelf of the self....
      But I have a feeling that our resolutions have more to do with controlling our lives than enriching them....
      We spend Jan. 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a punch list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. We decide that it's time to get a painful grip on ourselves....
      But life improvement is not just a matter of discipline, self-control. It's a matter of expansion, the deliberate pursuit of happiness....
      We ought to walk through the rooms of our lives a second time, not looking for the flaws, but for potential.
      ~Ellen Goodman, The Boston Globe, December 1982

I brought good desires,
      Though as yet but seeds;
      Let the New-Year make them
      Blossom into Deeds.
I brought joy to brighten
      Many happy days;
      Let the New-Year's Angel
      Turn it into praise.
If I gave you sickness,
      If I brought you care,
      Let him make one Patience,
      And the other Prayer.
Where I brought you sorrow,
      Through his care, at length,
      It may rise triumphant
      Into future strength.
If I brought you plenty,
      All wealth's bounteous charms,
      Shall not the New Angel
      Turn them into alms.
~Adelaide A. Procter (1825–1864), "The Old Year's Blessing," A Chaplet of Verses, 1862

May all your troubles last as long as your New Year's resolutions. ~Arnold H. Glasow (1905–1999)

Did you make any New Year's resolutions? No, you can't really say that you did. Did you ever know anyone who did make New Year's resolutions — regular, honest-to-George-Washington ones? I don't mean the comic supplement brand, "I'm going to swear off something or other," with the right paw raised facetiously, not that sort, but the genuine renunciation with the will power tied up in hard soulful knots and the light of spiritual abnegation in your eye! Yes; in your eye!... Well, you know why you don't make these resolutions! It's because they are difficult, and there is no sense in doing difficult things until you have done all the easy things there are to do. ~James Montgomery Flagg, "I Should Say So: Four Easy New Year's Resolutions," 1915

Hope came to me last New Year, and told her pretty lie,
How she'd make the earth grow greener, how she'd scour up the sky,
How she'd make the stars shine brighter, ere the coming year was done,
Make the grave moon more resplendent, polish up the ancient sun....
~Sam Walter Foss (1858–1911), "New Year's at Hard Fact Meadows," Whiffs from Wild Meadows, 1895

He who breaks a resolution is a weakling; He who makes one is a fool. ~F. M. Knowles, quoted in Laughter, the Best Medicine: Holidays: Ho, Ho, Ha! The Merriest Jokes, Quotes, and Cartoons by the Editors of Reader's Digest, 2012

Ring out wild bells to the wild sky,
      The flying cloud, the frosty light:
      The year is dying in the night;
      Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
      Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
      The year is going, let him go;
      Ring out the false, ring in the true.
~Alfred Tennyson (1809–1892), In Memoriam A.H.H., 1833

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
      The civic slander and the spite;
      Ring in the love of truth and right,
      Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
      Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
      Ring out the thousand wars of old,
      Ring in the thousand years of peace.
~Alfred Tennyson (1809–1892), In Memoriam A.H.H., 1833

      The Pope and the Parliament played havoc with the date of the proper annual emotion. Moreover, if a man should happen to think of it, every day is a new-year's day. If we propose a prospect or a retrospect we can stand tiptoe on the top of every day, yes, and of every hour, in the year. Good-morning is but a daily greeting of Happy New-year....
      But we are children of the new style, and the first of January is our New-year. That is our day of remembrance, our feast of hope, the first page of our fresh calendar of good resolutions, the day of underscoring and emphasis of the swift lapse of life.
      ~George William Curtis (1824–1892), "Editor's Easy Chair," Harper's New Monthly Magazine, January 1887

To the far-off, invisible shore
He is going, returning no more;
      For the toll,
Startling out from the steeples of brass,
Proclaims the illustrious pass
      Of the dead year's soul.
Stern Autumn, the purple-robed priest,
His sublime incantation hath ceased;
      And, instead,
Wails the white weaver, Winter, aloud,
And he fashions the folds of the shroud
      To apparel the dead.
~Luella Clark (1832–1915), "The Old Year," in The Ladies' Repository, January 1858  [In Clark's 1904 April Days, the poem is titled "Going." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Cupid's Forecast January — General depression, caused by Brain-storms of December. This is succeeded by a wave of Good Resolutions, accompanied by a general downpour of Ice Water. ~Oliver Herford, Cupid's Fair-Weather Booke: To All Good Hearticulturists, 1911

They come, they go, they change, they do not die.
So the Old Year—that fond and formal name,
Is with us yet, another and the same.
And are the thoughts, that ever more are fleeing,
The moments that make up our being's being...
Are these less vital than the wave or wind.
Or snow that melts and leaves no trace behind?
Oh! let them perish all, or pass away,
And let our spirits feel a New Year's day.
~Hartley Coleridge (1796–1849), "New-Year's Day," Poems, 1833

Approach the New Year with resolve to find the opportunities hidden in each new day. ~Michael Josephson (b.1942),

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day. ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce, "January: On Opening Things — Snow-Blind," Meditations for Women, edited by Jean Beaven Abernethy, 1947

It's not what you eat between Christmas and New Year's that matters—it's what you eat between New Year's and Christmas that counts. ~William A. Canady, in Boca Raton News, 1983 December 25th

Another twelve months passed away...
Day follows night, and night the day...
But what are nights and what are days,
Wherein to thread this mortal maze.... {St.¹}
I held the earth within my hand...
Then tried to count its golden sand...
And counting it the decades flew
Swift as the flight of wild sea-mew... {St.³}
~Anonymous, in Punch, 1897 January 2nd  [A Romantic Cenobite recalls bygone bliss on New Year's Day by some well-remembered Sandbanks. "And oh! the world is not so young!" —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Year's end comes on the wings of a chattering jay and a cawing crow, and a wind that rustles the sere oak leaves in the star-glimmered night. The jay chatters of short Winter days, and the crow caws of the long Winter nights. And the wind's song is the song of time, of the years, the endless round of years. ~Hal Borland (1900–1978), "The Song of Time," 1945 December 31st

Ring out, O bells, ring silver-sweet o'er hill and moor and fell!
      In mellow echoes let your chimes their hopeful story tell.
      Ring out, ring out, all jubilant, this joyous glad refrain:
      "A bright new year, a glad new year, hath come to us again!"
Ah, who can say how much of joy within it there may be
      Stored up for us, who listen now to your sweet melody?
      Good-bye, Old Year, tried, trusty friend, thy tale at last is told.
      O New Year, write thou thine for us in lines of brightest gold.
~A.H. Baldwin, "On the Threshold," in Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, 1885 December 19th

About New Year's I grit my teeth, I brace my feet an' swear
      Thet I'll rastle with ol' Satan an' down him everywhere...
An' so, on January first, 'neath Virtue's soft caress,
      I feel all soaked in sanctity, an' steeped in righteousness,
      A sort er walkin' meetin'-house, all sin-born fears are fled—
      For, don't the righteous own the earth, an' ain't the devil dead?
But the day after New Year's Day, the devil moves his head,
      An' I am all broke up to find the old scamp isn't dead;
      An' later in the afternoon, he jest begins to blink,
      An' has the cheek to lift his head, 'an cock his eye an' wink...
~Sam Walter Foss (1858–1911), "New Year Righteousness," Back Country Poems, 1892

Peace, peace to the Old Year! peace!
Let in mourning all murmuring cease,
      And forget
All the jubilant hopes that he crushed,
All the voices of song he hath hushed;
      Lose in love thy regret,
And remember the bright blades of bloom
That he gathered thee out of the gloom...
~Luella Clark (1832–1915), "The Old Year," in The Ladies' Repository, January 1858  [In Clark's 1904 April Days, the poem is titled "Going." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

A Friend stands at the door;
In either tight-closed hand
Hiding rich gifts, three hundred and threescore:
Waiting to strew them daily o'er the land
Even as seed the sower.
~Dinah Maria Craik (1826–1887), "A Psalm for New Year's Eve," 1855  [The author preferred to be cited as "Dinah Maria Craik," but I would prefer to cite her as "Dinah Maria Muloch Craik." Modern reference sources show her name spelled Mulock, but from much of what I've seen in her own time it was written "Muloch" with an H rather than K, including a book of her poems published within her lifetime. Most of the original books are cited "by the author of" titles of her previous works, as was commonly done, especially for women. Well, fortunately I need not concern myself with the proper spelling since she preferred to leave off her maiden name. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Good resolutions are useless attempts to interfere with scientific laws. Their origin is pure vanity. Their result is absolutely nil. They give us, now and then, some of those luxurious sterile emotions that have a certain charm for the weak. That is all that can be said for them. They are simply cheques that men draw on a bank where they have no account. ~Oscar Wilde (1854–1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1890

Last night the Old Year passed away, all
      Scarred with guilt and sin;
      This morn the New Year, pure and white,
      Time's angel ushered in.
The starry midnight gates were flung
      Upon their hinges wide,
      The angels dipped their silv'ry oars in
      Time's incoming tide.
~Eliza A. Wetherby Otis (1833–1904), "The New Year (1885)," in California "Where Sets the Sun", 1905  [Being The Writings of Eliza A. Otis (Mrs. Harrison Gray Otis, long with the staff of the Los Angeles Times) 1876–1904, In Poetry and Prose, assembled, arranged and edited by her husband. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results means you're either insane or are making a New Year's resolution. ~@thedeadauthor, 2015

Heap on more wood!—the wind is chill;
But let it whistle as it will,
We'll keep our Christmas merry still.
Each age has deemed the new-born year
The fittest time for festal cheer...
~Walter Scott (1771–1832), Marmion; a Tale of Flodden Field, 1808

One New Year's Eve I stood up at our local pub and said it was time to get ready. At the stroke of midnight, I wanted every husband to be standing next to the one person who made his life worth living. Well, it was kind of embarrassing. The bartender was almost crushed to death. ~Robert Orben, 2400 Jokes to Brighten Your Speeches, 1984

For hark! the last chime of the dial has ceased,
And Old Time, who his leisure to cozen,
Has finish'd the Months, like the flasks at a feast,
Is preparing to tap a fresh dozen!
~Thomas Hood (1799–1845), "Anacreontic for the New Year," The New Monthly Magazine, January 1842

A New-Year's day—'tis but a term of art,
An arbitrary line upon the chart
Of Time's unbounded sea—fond fancy's creature,
To reason alien, and unknown to nature.
Nay—'tis a joyful day, a day of hope!...
And we, whom many New-Year's days have told
The sober truth, that we are growing old—
For this one night—aye—and for many more,
Will be as jocund as we were of yore,
Kind hearts can make December blithe as May,
And in each morrow find a New-Year's day.
~Hartley Coleridge (1796–1849), "New-Year's Day," Poems, 1833

      The old year is gone, the new year begun, and those of us who set store by the calendar draw a line to sum up a total, since it is man's habit to count the minutes and the days and try to map time. Nature, of course, has her own map of time, and although man's calculations may approximate it, they miss the mark repeatedly. If we insist on starting the year in mid-Winter, the solstice would be the logical moment, and the solstice occurred nine days ago. The ancients, being practical people, started their year with the vernal equinox, the beginning of Spring.
      But, being insistently illogical, we follow long habit and ingrained tradition and give this day unwonted significance. We draw a mythical total line, hoping somehow to stop time long enough to sum up. But even before we have totted the first column, time has gone beyond us. Time doesn't wait for totals. Only the tax collector can command time, and even he can't check the sun in its course. The sun already leans toward Spring and another Summer. ~Hal Borland (1900–1978), "Another Year," January 1961

To our savage as well as our animal ancestors, spring was a time of awakening from the winter's torpor, a time of throbbing pulse, of eager running hither and thither, of combat and mating and rioting. It was the real New Year, and should be ours instead of that pale, frost-bitten shadow of a shade which the almanacs have deluded us into anæmically celebrating in midwinter. ~Woods Hutchinson, A.M., M.D. (1862–1930), Civilization and Health, "Chapter XVI: Spring Fever and Spring Cleaning," 1914

The New Year opens most beautifully to me with all my dear ones in good health, & each busy & happy in their own peculiar way. ~Anna Alcott Pratt, January 1861, quoted from

Whether we want them or not, the New Year will bring new challenges; whether we seize them or not, the New Year will bring new opportunities. ~Michael Josephson (b.1942),

Farewell, old year; we walk no more together;
I catch the sweetness of thy latest sigh...
Good-bye, kind year, we walk no more together
But here in quiet happiness we part;
And from thy wreath of faded fern and heather
I take some sprays, and wear them on my heart.
~Sarah Doudney (1841–1926), "Farewell to the Old Year," in The Sunday Magazine, 1881

The last fire of many that have blazed on my hearth these twelve months gone is fast sinking into ashes. I do not care to revive its expiring flame, because I find its slow fading into darkness harmonious with the hour and the thought which comes with it as the shadow follows the cloud. While it is true that our division of time into years is purely conventional, and finds no recognition or record on the great dial face of the heavens, no man can be quite oblivious of it. New Year's eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights. The vast and shadowy stream of time sweeps on without break, but the traveler who has been journeying with it cannot be entirely unmindful that he is perceptibly nearer the end of his wanderings. ~Hamilton Wright Mabie (1846–1916), "New Year's Eve," c.1885

Trusting the Buddha, good and bad,
I bid farewell
To the departing year.
~Issa (1763–1828)

New Year's Day;
Nothing good or bad,—
Just human beings.
~Masaoka Shiki (1867–1902), translated by R.H. Blyth

The wave is breaking on the shore,—
The echo fading from the chime,
Again the shadow moveth o'er
The dial-plate of time!
~John Greenleaf Whittier, "The New Year: Addressed to the Patrons of the Pennsylvania Freeman," 1839

Make the New Year something to look forward to! Not a gloomy stretch of 365 doleful days in which you have made an impracticable pact with your tall dark-blue conscience to give up what you haven't the slightest notion of giving up. ~James Montgomery Flagg, "I Should Say So: Four Easy New Year's Resolutions," 1915

Why do we cry
Against Time's passing, we who stand
On the wandering earth, hand in hungry hand,
A little space, watching the low stars set?
What is it we cannot forget?
~Frances M. Frost, "Words to be Spoken on the Last Night of the Year," Blue Harvest, 1931

October began as new months are wont to do—their beginnings are perfectly modest and hushed, with no outward signs, no birthmarks. Indeed, they steal in silently and quite unnoticed, unless you are paying very strict attention. Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunder-storm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols. ~Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain, "Mercury's Moods," 1924, translated from German  [This is a mash-up translation. The first half was translated by John Edwin Woods and the second half by Helen Tracy Lowe-Porter. Yep, I like to mix it up like that. I'm a literary rebel. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

And now from yonder hill the sun's bright beams
      Shine through the mist, and flood the world with light;
      The path winds on, leaving our broken dreams
      Of tangled briar and brake far out of sight.
The dawn of hope has come our heart to cheer;
      The path before us shines in the sun's ray.
      We follow on, into the coming year,
      And in hope's sunshine greet each op'ning day.
~Lilian Pearce, in My Kalendar of Country Delights by Helen Milman, 1903

December Thirtieth.—Ah! welladay, the sand is nearly run out. Will the year be marked for good or for ill in the Book of Time? Have I done my best? Wist ye that nought matters if we have done right and kept straight ahead? And the year that is coming, what does it hold for me? It matters not, all will be well, and one step is enough at a time. There will be strength enough for the one day whatever happens. Life is a difficult thing to understand; but then there is no need to understand here, if we only trust. ~Helen Rose Anne Milman Crofton (1857–1937), My Kalendar of Country Delights, 1903

January First.—Another page turned. Another milestone reached on the King's Highway. Another year beginning with its hidden store of joy and sorrow.... Let Hope reign on New Year's Day. ~Helen Rose Anne Milman Crofton (1857–1937), My Kalendar of Country Delights, 1903

I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me. ~Anaïs Nin (1903–1977), journal, January 1927

It's January 10th. Do you know where your New Year's resolutions are? ~Robert Orben, 2400 Jokes to Brighten Your Speeches, 1984

      The Old Year being dead, and the New Year coming of age, which he does, by Calendar Law, as soon as the breath is out of the old gentleman’s body, nothing would serve the young spark but he must give a dinner upon the occasion, to which all the Days in the year were invited... All the Days came...
      May Day, with that sweetness which is peculiar to her, made a neat speech and crowned her goblet with garlands. This being done, the lordly New Year from the upper end of the table, in a cordial but somewhat lofty tone, returned thanks. He felt proud on an occasion of meeting so many of his worthy father’s late tenants, promised to improve their farms, and at the same time to abate (if any thing was found unreasonable) in their rents... ~Charles Lamb, "Rejoicings Upon the New Year's Coming of Age," 1823  [a little altered —tg]

Why wont they let a year die without bringing in a new one on the instant, cant they use birth control on time? I want an interregnum. The stupid years patter on with unrelenting feet, never stopping—rising to little monotonous peaks in our imaginations at festivals like New Year's and Easter and Christmas—But, goodness, why need they do it? ~John Dos Passos (1896–1970), diary, 1917, in The Fourteenth Chronicle, Townsend Ludington, ed., 1973  [The contractions are sic; all else seems perfectly healthy. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

O great Today! We hail thee as a child
Of all Time's ages, and the New Year's dawn,
Crowned with the garnered glory of the centuries,
Proclaims the coming of a grander morn.
~Eliza A. Wetherby Otis (1833–1904), "The New Year (December 31, 1901—January 1, 1902)," in California "Where Sets the Sun", 1905

[O]nly the past glitters.... Every one regards his own life as the new-year's eve of time... ~Jean Paul Friedrich Richter (1763–1825), Levana; or, the Doctrine of Education, 1807, translated from the German by A.H., 1848

Hark, the Cock crows, and you, bright Star,
Tells us the day himself's not far...
With him old Janus does appear,
Peeping into the future Year...
Why should we then suspect or fear
The Influences of a year
So smiles upon us the first morn,
And speaks us good so soon as born?
Pox on't! the last was ill enough...
And then the next in reason shou'd
Be superexcellently good:
For the worst ills we daily see,
Have no more perpetuity
Than the best Fortunes that do fall;
Which also bring us wherewithall
Longer their being to support,
Than those do of the other sort...
~Charles Cotton (1630–1687), "The New-year" (To Mr. W.T.), Poems On Several Occasions, published 1689  [Janus, being the Roman god of beginnings, transitions, doorways, passages, endings, &c. His two opposite faces look both to the future and to the past. Some say January is the month of Janus. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

The old year cracks under the burdensome weight of twelve heavy months, and the next year emerges fresh and anew from its shell. ~Terri Guillemets, "A cracked bell still tolls," 2010

When Time has set the shadow of
His frown upon the hills...
And belted hist'ry's landscape with
His russet swath of death,
A happy new-year then I wish
To all who share my breath.
~Arad Joy Sebring (1833–1916), "Happy New Year," Girdle of Gladness, 1905

A new year begins, as we say. And the latent bud on the branch doesn't stir one whit, the blossom in the bulb sleeps undisturbed in the frozen ground. The woodchuck's hibernating pulse doesn't quicken one beat, and the deer in the thicket is just as hungry as he was yesterday. Man is the only animal to whom this new year is important. All the others live by day and the season. ~Hal Borland (1900–1978), "Another Year," January 1961

The Old Year is slowly dying,
      Without a tear or groan;
      He is old and cold and aweary,
      And he sleeps and makes no moan:—
Sleeps and dreams of the lilies
      That lay in the hand of Spring,—
      Of the Summer's regal beauty,
      Of October's blossoming...
And so he, sleeping, lieth;
      And so the night wears on;
      While the New Year, brave and buoyant,
      Comes over the hills of dawn...
The Old and the New together:—
      So come and so go the years;
      So in all life's good-byes and greetings
      We mingle our smiles and our tears.
~Luella Clark (1832–1915), "The Old and the New," in Golden Hours: A Magazine for Boys and Girls, January 1875

      Remember that old operation, how the deep wound slowly healed? But, even after healing, there was left a calloused welt as tough as hard wood. Scar tissue — the doctor told you.
      You do not need a bodily wound to leave scar tissue. Old, bitter wounds of fear and hate leave scars as well. Old, cherished prejudices and superstitions. Even too closely cherished joys that long are past may leave scar tissue on your spirit. Scar tissue through which no clean hope can penetrate.
      Maybe you think the old, old hurts will not bind you down as they did last year. So perhaps you think you need not worry about them… you can still go on with that mental scar tissue that's been hardening in your mind and soul.
      You can't. Scar tissues of memory are as vicious and as hard as any which a knife has left upon your flesh.
      The new year lies ahead with all its fresh new starts… its chances to find new joys, new hope, new courage and new love. But if you drag the deepening callous of old memories… if you choose to wall yourself from life by either fear or hate or pleasure or remorse which started in the days so long ago, this next year holds no growth in days ahead.
      The flesh beneath old, hardened tissue does not grow. The mind and soul that live in yesterday cannot go on. They form a barrier tougher than tooled steel against new life.
      If you would wake and hope and have the bravery to grasp the treasure which lies ahead, you must release your grip on all the hardened dreams and blunders and sorrows in the past.
      Release your grip on all your vain regrets. Release your grip on all old, gnawing fears. Release your grip on bubble dreams that broke. Release your grip on too long cherished joys lest you become a helpless, clinging child who holds mother's apron or your father's hand.
      Release your grip and dare to live today.
      Let the old year take care of its old scars. Go on with a new spirit to this year's new dawns. New growth can only happen if you put old scars away. ~Elsie Robinson, 1947  [a little altered —tg]

So, hope-lit New Year, with thy joys uncertain,
Whose unsolved mystery none may foretell,
I calmly trust my God to lift thy curtain:
Safe in his love, for me 'twill all be well.
~Julia B. Cady (d.1869), "New-Year Thoughts," in Sabbath at Home, January 1870

      In those days the sound of those midnight chimes, though it seemed to raise hilarity in all around me, never failed to bring a train of pensive imagery into my fancy. Yet I then scarce conceived what it meant, or thought of it as a reckoning that concerned me. Not childhood alone, but the young man till thirty, never feels practically that he is mortal. He knows it indeed, and, if need were, he could preach a homily on the fragility of life; but he brings it not home to himself, any more than in a hot June we can appropriate to our imagination the freezing days of December. But now—shall I confess a truth?—I feel these audits but too powerfully. I begin to count the probabilities of my duration; and to grudge at the expenditure of moments and shortest periods, like miser's farthings. In proportion as the years both lessen and shorten, I set more count upon their periods; and would fain lay my ineffectual finger upon the spoke of the great wheel.... I care not to be carried with the tide, that smoothly bears human life to eternity; and reluct at the inevitable course of destiny. I am in love with this green earth; the face of town and country; the unspeakable rural solitudes, and the sweet security of streets. I would set up my tabernacle here. I am content to stand still at the age to which I am arrived; I, and my friends. To be no younger, no richer, no handsomer. I do not want to be weaned by age; or drop, like mellow fruit, as they say, into the grave.— Any alteration, on this earth of mine, in diet, or in lodging, puzzles and discomposes me. My household gods plant a terrible fixed foot, and are not rooted up without blood....
      Sun, and sky, and breeze, and solitary walks, and summer holydays, and the greenness of fields, and the delicious juices of meats and fishes, and society, and the chearful glass, and candle-light, and fireside conversations, and innocent vanities, and jests, and irony itself—do these things go out with life?
      Can a ghost laugh; or shake his gaunt sides, when you are pleasant with him?...
      In winter this intolerable disinclination to dying—to give it its mildest name—does more especially haunt and beset me....
      Whatsoever thwarts, or puts me out of my way, brings death into my mind.... I have heard some profess an indifference to life. Such hail the end of their existence as a port of refuge; and speak of the grave as of some soft arms, in which they may slumber as on a pillow....
      Those antidotes, prescribed against the fear of thee, are altogether frigid and insulting, like thyself.... In the meantime I am alive.... I survive, a jolly candidate for 1821. Another cup of wine—and... that turn-coat bell... just now mournfully chanted the obsequies of 1820 departed, [and] with changed notes lustily rings in a successor...
      ~Charles Lamb (1775–1834), "New Year's Eve," in The London Magazine, January 1821  [Lamb (Elia) was five-and-forty when he wrote this. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

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published 1998 Mar 18
last saved 2024 Apr 25