The Old Year

The Old Year’s gone away
    To nothingness and night:
We cannot find him all the day
    Nor hear him in the night:
He left no footstep, mark or place
    In either shade or sun:
The last year he’d a neighbour’s face,
    In this he’s known by none.

All nothing everywhere:
    Mists we on mornings see
Have more of substance when they’re here
    And more of form than he.
He was a friend by every fire,
    In every cot and hall–
A guest to every heart’s desire,
    And now he’s nought at all.

Old papers thrown away,
    Old garments cast aside,
The talk of yesterday,
    Are things identified;
But time once torn away
    No voices can recall:
The eve of New Year’s Day
    Left the Old Year lost to all.

  — John Clare (1793 – 1864), English Poet