Happy New Year!

Photo Credit: New York Public Library Digital Collections

The following little poem is such an odd juxtaposition of subject matter and rhyme scheme, I don’t know quite what to make of it. If the poet is trying to express the human experience we all share as we look ahead to the new year–despite the number of times it’s been expressed before–the rhyme scheme seems to fight against it to convey a world-weary cynicism. What do others think?

Public domain, retrieved from poets.org
I’ll just stick with the straightforward and unequivocal:
Photo Credit: New York Public Library Digital Collections

51 thoughts on “Happy New Year!

  1. Namaste Liz, Happy New Year 🙂

    A moment found to pause and post pictures and a poem in purposeful celebration of the New Year, wonderful! 🙂 The subject matter of the header image is a metaphorical delight, whilst previous ownership of the print by The Gordon Hotel a curiosity in itself.

    Regards the lugubrious poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox – one wonders in what year it was written – it exudes a sense of fatalistic realism, perhaps suggestive of loss – her weariness is almost palpable, but yet, one feels a sense of hope as she finds a balancing point with her thoughts.

    The final image is entirely bucolic – an unambiguous celebratory message of peace and happiness: the idyllic homestead, what better place is there for centring a joyous life.

    Thank you for posting. I hope the year ahead will provide health, happiness, good fortune and luck in abundance and bring all your dreams to fruition.

    Brightest Blessings in all ways always.

    Namaste 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

      1. Namaste Liz 🙂

        My pleasure. Thank you for providing the date – Poems of Experience, published in 1910 – I hope you enjoy the read.

        A page of notes – excellent! Then its best word forward and don’t spare the horses 🙂

        Namaste 🙂


        Liked by 1 person

  2. The passage of time is just that … the passage of time. For the Year to be truly a New Year calls for effort on our part. Just as Ella Wilcox writes, “There is no chance, no destiny, no fate, that can circumvent or hinder or control the firm resolve of a determined soul.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your comment about the passage of time reminds me that turning the year on the calendar has never marked a new year for me.. Instead, what brings renewal and hope is the start of a new season . Every time the season changes, it’s like I’ve been given another second chance.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, that’s a heavyish poem in one sense. But the silver lining I pick up on is Wilcox’s reminder, even if unintentional, for each of us to live our lives while we can in ways that are meaningful to us and others with whom we’re connected and, thus, bear with grace the year’s burden that we all share.

    Thanks for this intriguing and thoughtful post to start 2019, Liz. Endless good blessings to you for the year ahead. Brett 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I like the world-weary poem, as it minds me of the cycle in Faulkner’s _Light in August_ of life, death, love, and rebirth. Pregnant “Lena” comes to town looking for a man named “Burch” and finds a man named “Bunch.” The story contains tragic endings, but in the end affirms continuation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment! It’s been so long since I read Light in August that I didn’t make the connection.

      I’m so happy to meet another Faulkner fan. Here’s a description from my Facebook page of what his writing did for me:

      I’ve had a passion for literary fiction ever since I was assigned to read William Faulkner’s “Barn Burning” in the ninth grade. My fourteen-year-old self found that story transcendent in its use of language to convey truths of the human condition I couldn’t even imagine–but at the same time, the story was very much grounded in the real world of cheese and dirt and manure-fouled boots.

      Reading “Barn Burning set me on the path of becoming a writer, and I’ve been on that path ever since. I write literary fiction, not because I think I can achieve the transcendence of a “Barn Burning” or an As I Lay Dying, but because I know it is possible.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I haven’t read “Barn Burning,” but it sounds like F. was able to employ figurative language in the same effective way there as in his novels.

    I’m not even familiar with what’s in the current literary canon. By now, Joyce, Woolf, and Faulkner are all rather passe. Even Shakespeare is marginalized, which I find regrettable.

    I think _Ulysses_ was the best novel I ever studied.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Interesting point about the canon. I read elsewhere that, in US high schools, students just pick the books they want to read in English, and the instructor has to go along with it. Nor is a foreign language required anymore… Thanks for the link. As for _U_, I think it’s a worthwhile read once in your life. I picked it up a second time and reread “Nestor” some years back. It was beautiful. I mainly like the book for its pro-Semite message (Poldy Bloom is a Jew). But reading it is a commitment of time and effort. If you’re curious about it, you might look into it someday.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. What you’re describing about high schools sounds as if it will lead to a “book report” with a pointless plot summary.

          I expect you’re right about needing to read Ulysses at least once in my life, but that deep a commitment is going to have to wait until retirement when I have uninterrupted days to binge-read like when I was a kid.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. It’s not a must-read book. I actually wish Joyce had expressed the same theme of universal love in a 100-pg. book rather than 600. I was 22yo and a student when I covered it. We had a lot of fun with that and _Dubliners_ and _Portrait of the Artist_.

            Liked by 2 people

  6. Thanks for an introduction to a poet I did not know. Ms. Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919) received her share of notice as a popular poet. Her phrases strike us as rather lame, I suppose, but there’s something genuinely, viscerally daunting in “We wreathe our brides, we sheet our dead.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment, Brad! I subscribe to Poem-a-Day from poets.org, which has introduced me to a very wide range of poets. With 19th and early 20th century poetry in particular, I sometimes struggle to accept the poem on its own terms, rhymes and all.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. That’s an interesting poem. Reading when the author lived gives it a little more understanding. Their arts were more down-to-earth than ours tend to be, I think. I suppose today, the closest we come is “gritty realism”, but really I like her poem better than what passes as that. =) There is some positive, and some matter-of-fact. What we might see as a down attitude is probably just acceptance for her. Thanks for sharing that, as it definitely makes one pause and think about differences and commonalities with one’s antecedents.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Good Reads shelf of that name includes things as diverse as To Kill a Mockingbird and The Godfather, as well as more modern tales like Mockingjay and Gone Girl.

        Author Mark Lawrence said this: “So when the term gritty realism is employed it is not, as it is often accused of being, the case that the person is saying that ‘gritty’ is ‘realistic’, it is not that the term is implying that focusing on the ‘gritty’ aspects of life makes the fiction more realistic. Not at all. What it is saying is that this fiction is going to focus on the gritty aspects of a situation (a choice) and to attempt to present those realistically” and “Gritty realism doesn’t imply a work that suggests a dark and gritty view of the world is realistic. It implies a work resulting from the decision to focus on those aspects and present them realistically.”

        I think of it as life dressed in no illusions. That’s almost impossible, of course. We all have illusions. And some of us have delusions, as well. =)

        Liked by 1 person

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