A New Year's Eve in War Time



            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.
Source: Thomas Hardy: The Complete Poems (Palgrave, 2001)
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