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New Year Poetry

New Year Poetry

A Poem by Michael R. Burch

Poems about the New Year and New Year's Day

New Year Poetry

These are poems about the end of winter and other endings, conclusions, new beginnings and resolutions. Some of the poems are specifically about New Year's Day, while others are more about the season in general. There are also poems about toasts, salutes and drinking.

This is my modern English translation/interpretation of the most famous New Year's Day song, 'Auld Lang Syne.' 

Auld Lange Syne
by Robert Burns
translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch 

Should old acquaintance be forgot, 
And never brought to mind? 
Should old acquaintance be forgot, 
And days for which we pine? 

For times we shared, my darling, 
Days passed, once yours and mine, 
We'll raise a cup of kindness yet, 
To those fond-remembered times!

These haiku by Oriental masters make me think of the New Year, which arrives bringing hope in the dead of winter: 

The first soft snow: 
leaves of the awed jonquil
bow low
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

White plum blossoms―
though the hour is late, 
a glimpse of dawn
―Yosa Buson, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The haiku above is believed to be Buson's death poem; he is said to have died before dawn.

Along with spring leaves
my child's teeth
take root, blossom
―Nakamura Kusatao, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The new calendar: 
as if tomorrow
is assured? ...
―Inahata Teiko, loose translation by Michael R. Burch
*Students with your copybooks: 
 from whose satchel
 shall the New Year spring? 
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch
Year after year, 
the face a monkey faces
is a monkey face.
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch
Do we really change, for all our New Years' resolutions? Are we really so different from our peers? Matsuo Basho suggests: perhaps not, or not as much as we would like to think. Haiku scholar Kon Eizo explains: "At a New Year's performance, a monkey's mask worn by a monkey changes nothing, so we repeat the same foolishness each year." 
Because it will not melt
we dedicate this ice
to the New Year's dawning sun
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch
It's child's play for the cranes
circling the clouds
to celebrate the year's first sunrise
―Chiyo-ni, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch
Basking beneath the New Year's sun: 
my grubby hut.
―Kobayashi Issa, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch 
Letting in torrents
of New Year's rain: 
my leaky hut.
―Kobayashi Issa, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch
O, God of the New Year, 
this year also, 
please have pity! 
―Kobayashi Issa, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

New Year's Day is considered the first day of spring in Japan.

Celebrate the New Year? 
The cat is not impressed, 
the dogs shiver.
―Michael R. Burch

Our dogs have always hated fireworks and I have never seen a cat who seemed impressed by all the noisy human goings-on.

Archaic Torso of Apollo
by Rainer Maria Rilke
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch 

We cannot know the beheaded god
nor his eyes' forfeited visions. But still
the figure's trunk glows with the strange vitality
of a lamp lit from within, while his composed will
emanates dynamism. Otherwise
the firmly muscled abdomen could not beguile us, 
nor the centering loins make us smile
at the thought of their generative animus.
Otherwise the stone might seem deficient, 
unworthy of the broad shoulders, of the groin
projecting procreation's triangular spearhead upwards, 
unworthy of the living impulse blazing wildly within
like an inchoate star―demanding our belief.
You must change your life.

This is a poem about a major resolution: changing the very nature of one's life. 

The Century's Wake
by Michael R. Burch 

lines written at the close of the 20th century

Take me home. The party is over, 
the century passed―no time for a lover.
And my heart grew heavy
as the fireworks hissed through the dark
over Central Park, 
past high-towering spires to some backwoods levee, 
hurtling banner-hung docks to the torchlit seas.
And my heart grew heavy; 
I felt its disease―
its apathy, 
wanting the bright, rhapsodic display
to last more than a single day.
If decay was its rite, 
now it has learned to long
for something with more intensity, 
more gaudy passion, more song―
like the huddled gay masses, 
the wildly-cheering throng.
You ask me―
How can this be? 
A little more flair, 
or perhaps only a little more clarity.
I leave her tonight to the century's wake; 
she disappoints me.

Originally published by The Centrifugal Eye

Passionate One
by Michael R. Burch 

Love of my life, 
light of my morning―
arise, brightly dawning, 
for you are my sun.

Give me of heaven
both manna and leaven―
desirous Presence, 
Passionate One.

Roses for a Lover, Idealized
by Michael R. Burch 

When you have become to me
as roses bloom, in memory, 
exquisite, each sharp thorn forgot, 
will I recall―yours made me bleed? 
When winter makes me think of you―
whorls petrified in frozen dew, 
bright promises blithe spring forsook, 
will I recall your words―barbed, cruel? 

The Toast
by Michael R. Burch

For longings warmed by tepid suns
(brief lusts that animated clay) , 
for passions wilted at the bud
and skies grown desolate and gray, 
for stars that fell from tinseled heights
and mountains bleak and scarred and lone, 
for seas reflecting distant suns
and weeds that thrive where seeds were sown, 
for waltzes ending in a hush, 
for rhymes that fade as pages close, 
for flames' exhausted, drifting ash, 
and petals falling from the rose, ...
I raise my cup before I drink, 
saluting ghosts of loves long dead, 
and silently propose a toast―
to joys set free, and those I fled.

First and Last
by Michael R. Burch 

for Beth

You are the last arcane rose
of my aching, 
my longing, 
or the first yellowed leaves―
vagrant spirals of gold
forming huddled bright sheaves; 
you are passion forsaking
dark skies, as though sunsets no winds might enclose.

And still in my arms
you are gentle and fragrant―
demesne of my vigor, 
spent rigor, 
lost power, 
fallen musculature of youth, 
leaves clinging and hanging, 
nameless joys of my youth to this last lingering hour.

by Michael R. Burch 

for Beth

If I regret
fire in the sunset
exploding on the horizon, 
then let me regret loving you.

If I forget
even for a moment
that you are the only one, 
then let me forget that the sky is blue.

If I should yearn
in a season of discontentment
for the vagabond light of a companionless moon, 
let dawn remind me that you are my sun.

If I should burn―one moment less brightly, 
one instant less true―
then with wild scorching kisses, 
inflame me, inflame me, inflame me anew.

The Sky Was Turning Blue
by Michael R. Burch 

Yesterday I saw you
as the snow flurries died, 
spent winds becalmed.
When I saw your solemn face
alone in the crowd, 
I felt my heart, so long embalmed, 
begin to beat aloud.

Was it another winter, 
another day like this? 
Was it so long ago? 
Where you the rose-cheeked girl
who slapped my face, then stole a kiss? 
Was the sky this gray with snow, 
my heart so all a-whirl? 

How is it in one moment
it was twenty years ago, 
lost worlds remade anew? 
When your eyes met mine, I knew
you felt it too, as though
we heard the robin's song
and the sky was turning blue.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year
by Michael R. Burch

Merry Christmas! 
 Best of wishes! 
 Hugs and kisses, 
Don't do dishes
 or eat fishes.
 You're delicious, 
Happy New Year! 
 Hope to see yer
 'round Springwater
 once again.
You're a treasure, 
 such a pleasure
 (that's for sure) , 
 a sexy friend.
Now I'm learnin'
 all 'bout yearnin', 
 and I'm earnin'
 it, I guess.
I'll be stronger, 
 live much longer.
 If I'm wronger, 
 I'll confess.
Had to tell you
 that you're swell; you
 ought to sell you
 for a mil.
If I could, 
 I'd (knock on wood) 
 be just as good.
 I never will.
Still, I love you, 
 thinking of you; 
 I eschew to
 tell you why.
If you're ever
 in the market
 (or hard up) 
 just call this guy.

by Michael R. Burch 

Now the evening has come to a close
and the party is over...
we stand in the doorway and watch as they go―
each stranger, each acquaintance, each casual lover.

They walk to their cars and they laugh as they go, 
though we know their forced laughter's the wine...
then they pause at the road where the dark asphalt flows
endlessly on toward Zion...

and they kiss one another as though they were friends, 
and they promise to meet again "soon"...
but the rivers of Jordan roll on without end, 
and the mockingbird calls to the moon...

and the katydids climb up the cropped hanging vines, 
and the crickets chirp on out of tune...
and their shadows, defined by the cryptic starlight, 
seem spirits torn loose from their tombs.

And I know their brief lives are just eddies in time, 
that their hearts are unreadable runes
to be wiped clean, like slate, by the dark hand of Fate
when their corpses lie ravaged and ruined...

You take my clenched fist and you give it a kiss
as though it were something you loved, 
and the tears fill your eyes, brimming with the soft light
of the stars winking sagely above...

Then you whisper, 'It's time that we went back inside; 
if you'd like, we can sit and just talk for a while.'
And the hope in your eyes burns too deep, so I lie
and I say, 'Yes, I would, ' to your small, troubled smile.

I vividly remember writing this poem after an office party the year I co-oped with AT&T (at that time the largest company in the world, with presumably a lot of office parties) . This would have been after my sophomore year in college, making me around 20 years old. The poem is "true" except that I was not the host because the party was at the house of one of the upper-level managers. Nor was I dating anyone seriously at the time. Oh, and I changed the season too, because it was a Christmas/New Year's Party, with no katydids or crickets to be seen or heard.

Keywords/Tags: New Year, New Year's Day, end, endings, begin, beginnings, closure, birth, rebirth, rejuvenation, resolutions

© 2020 Michael R. Burch

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Added on December 30, 2020
Last Updated on December 30, 2020
Tags: New Year, New Year's Day, end, endings, begin, beginnings, closure, birth, rebirth, rejuvenation, resolutions