“The Old Year”

John Clare had bought a copy of the Scottish poet James Thomson’s Seasons and began to write poems and sonnets. He offered them to a local bookseller named Edward Drury, who sent Clare’s poetry to the firm of Taylor & Hessey, which had published the work of John Keats. Taylor published Clare’s Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery in 1820. It included “The Old Year”.

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 halló
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.”

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