He came in the winter midnight—
Our Ruler—Time's youngest boy,
And we murdered his predecessor,
With revel and riot and joy.
'Te morituri salutant!'
Oh! what are your measures?' we cried.
'And what is your policy usward?'
And our baby King replied:—
'My people! Some chairs will empty;
And sundry cradles will fill;
And divers passions will vanish;
And hopes and hearts will chill
Ere I quit you in next December.'
(Our Ruler paused and smiled,
And the eyes of the terrible Father
Looked out from the face of the Child.)
'Some vows will be plighted and broken
And women and men will lie;
And envy and hatred and malice
Will thrive apace till I die.
And Loves Eternal will perish,
Ere half of my reign be done,
And a thousand good resolutions
Will melt like snow in the sun.'
Then we spread the tables for feasting
And made the great bells swing;
And clamoured aloud for largesse
At the hands of our generous King.
Rich nuts to the toothless gave he;
Strong meats to the aged and weak—
The gift of a fading eyesight—
The gift of a withered cheek.
High hopes, brave aspirations,
That sank us deep in the mire;
Fair visions of long–lost chances;
The gifts of a vain desire.
He dowered us richly with knowledge,
The sins of our youth to mourn,
And gave us the gift of loving,
When the time for loving was gone.
So we hugged his gifts to our bosoms,
And feasted and made good cheer;
And we grasped the hands of our neighbours,
And wished them:—'A Happy New Year'.