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The Passing of the Year

The Passing of the Year


by Robert Service

Stanza 1 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 1-3

My glass is filled, my pipe is lit,
My den is all a cosy glow;
And snug before the fire I sit,

  • Service starts things out simply, letting us know what the poem's speaker is doing and where he is at this particular moment. Basically, he's relaxing – hanging out with a pipe and a drink (probably not grape juice…). He's in a room filled with the comforting, glowing light of a fire.
  • That's the basic setting, which is important, but Service is also establishing a mood here. The pace of these lines, the images, and the words he uses ("cosy," "snug") all help to create a calm, soothing effect.

Line 4

And wait to feel the old year go.

  • Now that we have a sense of what the room feels like and what he's holding, the speaker tells us what he's doing: He's waiting "to feel the old year go."
  • We bet you've had this feeling on New Year's Eve, or maybe even on your birthday. You know it's a big change, but when exactly will you know that it has happened? Will you feel different when it has happened?
  • We like that idea of waiting to "feel" the change, since it's a little mysterious, but also relatable.

Lines 5-6

I dedicate to solemn thought
Amid my too-unthinking days,

  • Our speaker is taking a moment to pause, to think things through in a serious ("solemn") way. He's deciding to set aside ("dedicate") this time, to separate it from all the hustle and bustle that takes up the rest of his year.
  • Notice that last phrase: "too-unthinking days." We think that does a great job of summarizing the feelings of stress and hurry that overtake us sometimes. We bet you've felt that way too – when you're rushing to get your homework done, or when you barely feel like you have time to think.

Lines 7-8

This sober moment, sadly fraught
With much of blame, with little praise.

  • Now we take a little turn. Up until now, the mood of the poem was quiet, for sure, but also kind of relaxed and cheerful. Now we start to get a sense that maybe things aren't so great after all. Maybe our speaker is feeling a little bummed about the changing of the year.
  • Look at the key words in this line: "sober," "sadly fraught," "blame," "little praise." Instead of filling him with a sense of joy and possibility, the passing of the year is clearly bringing this guy down.

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