From the pen of Thomas Hardy 109 years ago today, and by way of my dear friend John Malone, here is a beautiful piece of moving prose to usher in your new year.

Whether it evokes thoughts of January 20th, or simply your own life, please read, and feel the glimmer and promise of a new day and a new horizon of hope.

Peace to all. Happy new year.

I leant upon a coppice gate

When frost was spectre-gray,

And Winter’s dregs made desolate

The weakening eye of day.

The tangled bine-stems scored the sky

Like strings of broken lyres,

And all mankind that haunted nigh

Had sought their household fires.

The land’s sharp features seemed to be

The Century’s corpse outleant,

His crypt the cloudy canopy,

The wind his death-lament.

The ancient pulse of germ and birth

Was shrunken hard and dry,

And every spirit upon earth

Seemed fervorless as I.

At once a VOICE arose among

The bleak twigs overhead

In a full-hearted evensong

of joy, illimited;

An aged thrush – frail, gaunt and small,

In blast beruffled plume,

Had chosen thus to fling his soul

Upon the growling gloom.

So little cause for carolings

Of such ecstatic sound

Was written on terrestrial things

Afar or night around,

That I could think there trembled through

His happy good-night air,

Some blessed HOPE from whereof he knew

And I was unaware. 

-Thomas Hardy, December 31st, 1900


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