The King Is Dead, Long Live The King

Do you see how the Old Year hides his eyes,
Hides his eyes as he steals away?
Yet they shone like stars with a glad surprise
Only a twelvemonth ago to-day.
He had come to be king o'er the world of men;
Gifts he had brought in his lavish hand,
And we, his subjects, trusted him then,
And shouted and laughed at the king's command.

The bells they rang, and the people cheered,
And the preachers praised him and welcomed him in —
Never a king more royal appeared,
Or ever was hailed with a lordlier din.
Then, sooth, he began his gifts to bestow,
As a monarch might on a waiting band
Of his courtiers, smiling and bowing below,
Waiting his pleasure and kissing his hand.
He was a giver impartial as Fate, —
Donor to one and donor to all, —
And the crowds that gathered his pleasure to wait
Caught each of them something his hand let fall:

To these it was Love, that is strong as life;
To those it was Death, more tender than love;
To some it was victory after strife,
To others defeat and the sorrow thereof.

Till at last his courtiers grew ill content,
And each man sighed for his neighbor's dole,
And the Year was old, and his strength was spent —
Toll the bell for his parting soul!
Toll, but be glad, for the old should die,
And love and life belong to the new —
Why over the Old Year should we sigh?
He was but a niggard to me — to you.

But this glad New Year, with smiles in his eyes,
This new young king, who is good to see,
He will make us happy and wealthy and wise,
And for him we will clamor joyously —
Shout till our throats with shouting are hoarse,
Ring the bells and kindle the fires,
For he will bring to us joy, perforce —
Give to our hearts our hearts' desires.

Surely he cannot be stern or sad, —
He, with the light in his shining eyes, —
We, his subjects, shall all be glad,
Dowered at last with some sweet surprise:
What the hard Old Year to our prayers denied
We shall win from the New Year, glad and gay,
And live, with his bounty satisfied, —
Welcome him in! It is New Year's Day.
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