Annette Von Droste-Hulshoff

(1797-1848 / Germany)

The Last Day Of The Year (New Year's Eve)


The year at its turn,
the whirring thread unrolls.
One hour more, the last today,
and what was living time is scrolls
of dust dropping into a grave.
I wait in stern

silence. O deep night!
Is there an open eye?
Time, your flowing passage shakes
these walls. I shiver, my
one need is to observe. Night wakes
in solitude. I light

my eyes to all
that I have done and thought.
All that was in my head and heart
now stands like sullen rot
at Heaven's door. Victory in part -
the rest a fall

into dark wind
whipping my house! Yes, this year
will shatter and ride on the wings
of storm; not breathe under the clear
light of stars like quiet things.
You, child of sin,

has there not been
a hollow, secret quiver each
day in your savage chest,
as the polar winds reach
across the stones, breaking, possessed
with slow and in-

sistent rage? Now my lamp
is about to die; the wick
greedily sucks the last drop of oil.
Is my life like smoke lick-
ing the oil? Will death's cave uncoil
before me black, damp?

My life breaks down
somewhere in the circle of
this year. Long have I known
decay. Yet my heart in love
glows under the huge stone
of passion. I frown,

sweating in deep
fear, my hands, forehead wet.
Why? Is there a moist star
burning through clouds? Is it
the star of love, with far
light, dim from fear, a steep

booming note. Do you hear?
Again! Song for the dead!
The bell shakes in its mouth.
O Lord, on my knees I spread
my arms, and from my drouth
beg mercy. Dead is the year!

Submitted: Friday, September 03, 2010

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