new year poem


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I have been struggling with something to write on this first day of 2017. I have found myself reluctant to say ‘Happy’ new year. And now I have found the perfect poem by May Sarton to share.

These are not my words. They are, however, the words that need to be shared, here, now. Please enjoy.

It would be lovely should you choose to leave a comment in the form of quoting a line or two from the poem that especially resonates with you at this time. Thank you. May peace and kindness be your companions along the journey ahead.

Let us step outside for a moment
As the sun breaks through clouds
And shines on wet new fallen snow,
And breathe the new air.

So much has died that had to die this year.
We are dying away from things.
It is a necessity—we have to do it
Or we shall be buried under the magazines,
The too many clothes, the too much food.
We have dragged it all around
Like dung beetles
Who drag piles of dung
Behind them on which to feed,
In which to lay their eggs.

Let us step outside for a moment
Among ocean, clouds, a white field,
Islands floating in the distance.
They have always been there.
But we have not been there.

We are going to drive slowly
And see the small poor farms,
The lovely shapes of leafless trees
Their shadows blue on the snow.
We are going to learn the sharp edge
Of perception after a day’s fast.

There is nothing to fear.
About this revolution…
Though it will change our minds.
Aggression, violence, machismo
Are fading from us
Like old photographs
Faintly ridiculous
(Did a man actually step like a goose
To instill fear?
Does a boy have to kill
To become a man?)

Already there are signs.
Young people plant gardens.
Fathers change their babies’ diapers
And are learning to cook.

Let us step outside for a moment.
It is all there
Only we have been slow to arrive
At a way of seeing it.
Unless the gentle inherit the earth
There will be no earth.

“New Year Poem” by May Sarton from Collected Poems. © Norton, 1993

10 thoughts on “new year poem

  1. Thank you for this poem at this time, Sarah. …learning the sharp edge of perception…stepping outside for a moment…my theme for the new year is about seeing what’s real and re-framing. This poem helps. Hope for a new year. XO

    • How lovely to ‘see’ you here, Beth. Many thanks for stopping by. And of course for your read-back line and comment. Yes, seeing/reframing. The sharp edge of perception. I still cannot get over the fact that this poem was written in 1993!!! Hope backatcha, sister. With love.

    • Oh, I like that Rita! Even though I’ve read this poem through several times, I always find something new each reading/hearing. Now I want to look for the various ways she suggests to come to awareness – the day’s fast, the slow drive … Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your response. And take good care into the coming beyond.

    • Ouch – so true and so timely (published in 1993 for heavens’ sake – how ‘slow to arrive at seeing this’ can we BE?!!!!) Thanks as always for stopping by, reading, commenting, and generally being a cheerleader from afar. So grateful for these connections, as Philippa says in her comment. Let us indeed be gentle with one another AND with the earth. May gentleness prevail.

    • Oh, yes Josh. Your choices speak so poignantly to what we must carry in our hearts and remember to share freely. Love, courage, compassion. Thank you for stopping by and for sharing these lines. What a poem, eh?!!!

  2. Truly lovely reminder poem Sarah. Clever to find it so timely! The beauty of the natural world is a renewal if, as she says, we vouchsafe it. I also celebrate the generosity of friends, and the bonds that reach across the miles. One can so easily forget the individuals who make a difference, in the collective that waves so many emphatic protests. I do hope for a different Year for us all. So HNY!

    • So well said, Philippa – as always. I love having a writer friend across the pond willing to share … anything, but especially current situations. ‘Bonds that reach across miles’ says it all. Here’s to a different year, indeed. And beyond. Warmest wishes to you.

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