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The Death of the Old Year
  1. John Birtwhistle
  1. Correspondence to John Birtwhistle, birtwhistle{at}

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By Alfred Tennyson (1809–1892)

With comment by John Birtwhistle

… How hard he breathes! over the snow

I heard just now the crowing cock.

The shadows flicker to and fro:

The cricket chirps: the light burns low:

‘Tis nearly twelve o'clock.

  Shake hands, before you die.

  Old year, we'll dearly rue for you:

  What is it we can do for you?

  Speak out before you die.

His face is growing sharp and thin.

Alack! our friend is gone.

Close up his eyes: tie up his chin:

Step from the corpse, and let him in

That standeth there alone,

  And waiteth at the door.

  There's a new foot on the floor, my friend, …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed. Poem first printed London: E. Moxon, 1832.