The Old Year
by John Clare
The Old Year's gone away
To nothingness and night:
We cannot find him all the day
Nor hear him in the night:
He left no footstep, mark or place
In either shade or sun:
The last year he'd a neighbour's face,
In this he's known by none.
All nothing everywhere:
Mists we on mornings see
Have more of substance when they're here
And more of form than he.
He was a friend by every fire,
In every cot and hall--
A guest to every heart's desire,
And now he's nought at all.
Old papers thrown away,
Old garments cast aside,
The talk of yesterday,
Are things identified;
But time once torn away
No voices can recall:
The eve of New Year's Day
Left the Old Year lost to all.
John Clare's poem describes the old year as a neighbour and friend and suggests that we have lost something as we discard papers, garments and yesterday's conversations. It's true that there's something refreshing about a change of digit as we move firmly into 2012; an opportunity offered to wipe the slate clean and renounce old damaging habits, move forward with plans and projects and become the people we should like to become...
But time is not as linear as it appears. We move in spirals, this new year touching the last one and the one before and the one before that... Rather than completely turning our backs on the old year, the familiar, let's take a moment to think about what it brought that was good and wholesome, what lessons we learnt from it, what aspects of it we should like to bring with us as we step into this new year. And what problems it brought which have still to be solved - does a fresh perspective help?
Whatever your situation I wish you well in 2012 as you journey forward.
I'm a cell, I'm fragmented, I change my form;
I'm a repository of song, I'm a dynamic state.
I love a wooded slope and a snug shelter,
and a creative poet who doesn't buy his advancement.
Wyf kell, wyf dellt, wyf datweirllet;
wyf llogell kerd, wyf lle ynnyet.
Karaf-y gorwyd a goreil clyt,
a bard a bryt ny pryn y ret.
From: Legendary Poems from the Book of Taliesin, edited and translated by Marged Haycock