Robert William Service
New Year's Eve
It's cruel cold on the water-front, silent and dark and drear;
Only the black tide weltering, only the hissing snow;
And I, alone, like a storm-tossed wreck, on this night of the glad New Year,
Shuffling along in the icy wind, ghastly and gaunt and slow.
They're playing a tune in McGuffy's saloon, and it's cheery and bright in there
(God! but I'm weak -- since the bitter dawn, and never a bite of food);
I'll just go over and slip inside -- I mustn't give way to despair --
Perhaps I can bum a little booze if the boys are feeling good.
They'll jeer at me, and they'll sneer at me, and they'll call me a whiskey soak;
("Have a drink? Well, thankee kindly, sir, I don't mind if I do.")
A drivelling, dirty, gin-joint fiend, the butt of the bar-room joke;
Sunk and sodden and hopeless -- "Another? Well, here's to you!"
McGuffy is showing a bunch of the boys how Bob Fitzsimmons hit;
The barman is talking of Tammany Hall, and why the ward boss got fired.
I'll just sneak into a corner and they'll let me alone a bit;
The room is reeling round and round . . .O God! but I'm tired, I'm tired. . . .
* * * * *
Roses she wore on her breast that night. Oh, but their scent was sweet!
Alone we sat on the balcony, and the fan-palms arched above;
The witching strain of a waltz by Strauss came up to our cool retreat,
And I prisoned her little hand in mine, and I whispered my plea of love.
Then sudden the laughter died on her lips, and lowly she bent her head;
And oh, there came in the deep, dark eyes a look that was heaven to see;
And the moments went, and I waited there, and never a word was said,
And she plucked from her bosom a rose of red and shyly gave it to me.
Then the music swelled to a crash of joy, and the lights blazed up like day,
And I held her fast to my throbbing heart, and I kissed her bonny brow.
"She is mine, she is mine for evermore!" the violins seemed to say,
And the bells were ringing the New Year in -- O God! I can hear them now.
Don't you remember that long, last waltz, with its sobbing, sad refrain?
Don't you remember that last good-by, and the dear eyes dim with tears?
Don't you remember that golden dream, with never a hint of pain,
Of lives that would blend like an angel-song in the bliss of the coming years?
Oh, what have I lost! What have I lost! Ethel, forgive, forgive!
The red, red rose is faded now, and it's fifty years ago.
'Twere better to die a thousand deaths than live each day as I live!
I have sinned, I have sunk to the lowest depths -- but oh, I have suffered so!
Hark! Oh, hark! I can hear the bells! . . . Look! I can see her there,
Fair as a dream . . . but it fades . . . And now -- I can hear the dreadful hum
Of the crowded court . . . See! the Judge looks down . . .
NOT GUILTY, my Lord, I swear . . .
The bells -- I can hear the bells again! . . . Ethel, I come, I come! . . .
* * * * *
"Rouse up, old man, it's twelve o'clock. You can't sleep here, you know.
Say! ain't you got no sentiment? Lift up your muddled head;
Have a drink to the glad New Year, a drop before you go --
You darned old dirty hobo . . . My God! Here, boys! He's DEAD!"
Robert William Service's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (New Year's Eve by Robert William Service )
- There Is Nothing But Darkness, Ronell Warren Alman
- Unpopped Corn Kernals and Cold Hearts..., Monk E. Biz
- The Full Moon, Vigna Mukund
- Adrenaline is my Mistress, Hayley Lewis
- Love is a Liquid ~~~ vs.33, Monk E. Biz
- Incarnation, dr.k.g.balakrishnan kandangath
- Eternal creation, ramesh rai
- Lomp doch fijn besnaard 2, Madrason writer
- Treasured days..., David Lessard
- The body of my Temple lays unswept;, David McLansky
Poem of the Day
- 04 Tongues Made Of Glass, Shaun Shane
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
- Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
- Invictus, William Ernest Henley
- Dreams, Langston Hughes
- Daffodils, William Wordsworth
- Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
- Heather Burns
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(January 30, 1935 – September 14, 1984)
(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892)