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.
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.
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.
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.
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.