A New Year's Eve In War Time

A poem by Thomas Hardy


Phantasmal fears,
And the flap of the flame,
And the throb of the clock,
And a loosened slate,
And the blind night's drone,
Which tiredly the spectral pines intone!


And the blood in my ears
Strumming always the same,
And the gable-cock
With its fitful grate,
And myself, alone.


The twelfth hour nears
Hand-hid, as in shame;
I undo the lock,
And listen, and wait
For the Young Unknown.


In the dark there careers -
As if Death astride came
To numb all with his knock -
A horse at mad rate
Over rut and stone.


No figure appears,
No call of my name,
No sound but "Tic-toc"
Without check. Past the gate
It clatters - is gone.


What rider it bears
There is none to proclaim;
And the Old Year has struck,
And, scarce animate,
The New makes moan.


Maybe that "More Tears! -
More Famine and Flame -
More Severance and Shock!"
Is the order from Fate
That the Rider speeds on
To pale Europe; and tiredly the pines intone.


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