The Passing of the Year
How we cite our quotes:
This sober moment, sadly fraught
With much of blame, with little praise. (line 7-8)
This is a little bit of a downer, huh? Check out all the negative words: "sober…sadly…blame…little praise." Sounds like someone's been having a bad time. We're not sure what's up with the speaker here, and he never really tells us, but it seems like looking back on the year is bumming him out. We can kind of relate to this. You know that feeling, when you think about all the crummy stuff that happens in the world and it's sort of hard to feel good about things? Maybe that's all that's going on here, since by the end of the poem it's pretty clear that our speaker isn't a super-depressed guy.
Your mien is sad, your step is slow; (line 13)
More glum stuff. It seems like the "Old Year" is bummed out, too. Now, we get that he's old and worn out, but that doesn't have to mean sad, too, right? Even if he was old and slow, he could feel "content" or "cheerful" as well. We think this is all part of the slightly downbeat feel of this poem. It's not like that all the time, but we think a lot of it has a kind of blue feeling.
O Maiden! why that bitter tear? (line 19)
Sorry to keep pointing this out, but these folks really don't seem all that happy. We don't know what happened to this poor girl, but she's clearly going through it. In a way, though, you have to respect Service for acknowledging how painful and difficult life can be. The poem isn't exactly grim, but it does really take a clear, honest look at the rough side of things. Instead of sounding like something you'd read on a Happy New Year greeting card, this poem recognizes that in every life and every year, there's a lot of pain. Maybe, in a way, reading about it in a poem can make it better.