Monday, December 31, 2007


2007 was a good year. I'm going to miss it. We spent the first seven and a half months in England, soaking up as much as we could of that beautiful, historic, strange little country. Last January, I visited my first medieval cathedral, Winchester Cathedral, and stood at the foot of Jane Austen's grave. I was, at the time, a year older than she was when she died. My wise blog friend Louise has been thinking similar thoughts about the turning of the year and the passing of time. Such thoughts are probably inevitable. As Charles Lamb wrote nearly 190 years ago: "No one ever regarded the First of January with indifference. It is that from which all date their time, and count upon what is left."

In my days as a moody college student, it was my custom to read Lamb's essay on mortality, "New Year's Eve," while sitting by the fire on the last evening of the old year—

Every dead man must take upon himself to be lecturing me with his odious truism, that "such as he now is, I must shortly be." Not so shortly, friend, perhaps, as thou imaginest. In the mean-time I am alive. I move about. I am worth twenty of thee. Know thy betters! Thy New Years' Days are past. I survive, a jolly candidate for 1821. Another cup of wine...while that turn-coat bell, that just now mournfully chanted the obsequies of 1820 departed, with changed notes lustily rings in a successor...

It means so much more to me now, when I am two years shy of the age Lamb was when he wrote that essay. I survive, a jolly candidate for 2008. Another cup of wine... A New Year's toast to all of you, my friends!

1 comment:

Jim H. said...

"A jolly candidate..." What a wonderful phrase! Would that all our candidates were jolly, this year especially.

Happy New Year to ye, Rob!

New Poem: "Phrasebook"

My poem " Phrasebook " has been published online in Ergon: Greek/American Arts and Letters .