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The Passing of the Year

The Passing of the Year


by Robert Service

The Glass and the Pipe

Symbol Analysis

Maybe not a lot of people relax with a pipe these days, but you can imagine the guy who would, right? Maybe an older gentleman with a bushy beard and a favorite comfy chair he likes to nap in. To go with that pipe, he needs a glass of the hard stuff – we're pretty sure he's not drinking apple juice. In any case, these are symbols of comfort, relaxation, and a peaceful nighttime routine. You could swap out whatever does that for you, like "my hot chocolate and my bubble bath," for example. Guess that doesn't sound quite as tough, but what can you do?

  • Line 1: Here, at the opening of the poem, the glass and pipe are symbolic of beginning, of possibility. The glass is full, ready for the first sip, and the pipe is hot and ready to be smoked. There's a gentle feeling of action, of momentum, which helps to start the poem.
  • Line 49: Now, near the end of the poem, the situation is completely reversed. The glass is empty, the pipe has burnt out, and both have become symbols of completion, of ending. Do you see how that balances things out, how it gives the poem a symmetrical feeling? These two simple objects actually play a pretty important role in beginning and ending the poem.

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