© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Passing of the Year

The Passing of the Year

by Robert Service

Memory and the Past Theme

Even though "The Passing of the Year" is about the moment when the old year changes into the new one, it doesn't really have that much to say about the future.  For the most part, our speaker seems to be kind of stuck in the past.  He's going over memories from the last year – his own and other people's.  For the most part, things don't seem to have gone all that well.  Let's just say we hope you had a better last year than most of these folks.

Questions About Memory and the Past

  1. Why do you think this poem spends so much time looking back? Isn't New Year's Eve about the future, too?
  2. Does the speaker seem trapped by his past, or do you see it differently?
  3. Have you ever written something about your memories?  A poem?  A story?  A blog?  Did it help you understand them better or see new things?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

"The Passing of the Year" is about the pain and difficulty of the passage of time. The text is an elaborate cover for the narrator's refusal to let go of the past.

The poem offers the speaker a chance to process his thoughts about the year. That work then allows him to come to his calm, final farewell to the past.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement