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The Passing of the Year

The Passing of the Year


by Robert Service

The Passing of the Year Theme of Sadness

We think "The Passing of the Year" is kind of a sad poem. OK, not a cry-your-eyes-out bummer from beginning to end, but it's a little blue. Most of the emotions it deals with have to do with regret, loss, and the pain of memory. We here at Shmoop don't want to bring you down, but sadness is a big part of life, and Service dives right into it here.

Questions About Sadness

  1. Is this a sad poem? If you had to pick one word to describe the main feeling of this poem, what would it be?
  2. Are there different kinds of sadness in the poem? Do the speaker, the young woman, and the criminal feel the same way?
  3. Does the cameo appearance by the happy guy (lines 25-32) make the whole poem seem less sad?
  4. Do you think this poem has a happy ending? If so, is it convincing?

Chew on This

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

Although the final lines appear to end the poem on a happy note, they can't erase the weight of sadness that has built up throughout the poem.

The poem carefully balances happiness and sadness. This creates a complex, subtle mixture that gives the poem its emotional power.

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