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The Passing of the Year

The Passing of the Year


by Robert Service

Stanza 6 Summary

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

Lines 41-42

And so from face to face I flit,
The countless eyes that stare and stare;

  • Things get a little crazy here, as the speaker looks from person to person in this audience, and those people "stare and stare" at the old actor (the Old Year) on the stage.
  • We think it's kind of neat how things bounce around here. The speaker is looking at the people in the audience, and they are looking at the Old Year, and the Old Year is looking back at them, and we, the readers, are looking at everyone.
  • Actually, maybe it's a little creepy too. There's something about that "stare and stare" that makes these people seem like zombies or ghosts. We started out in a quiet room by a warm fire, and now we're in some kind of weird ghost theater, full of staring eyes. Not really our idea of a great New Year's party, but it's fun to peek in on it.

Lines 43-44

Some are with approbation lit,
And some are shadowed with despair.

  • These lines are basically a review of the stuff we learned earlier. Some of the audience members' faces are happy, lit up by "approbation" (that just means approval) and some look pretty bummed – "shadowed with despair."

Lines 45-46

Some show a smile and some a frown;
Some joy and hope, some pain and woe:

  • Here it is again, the balance of happy and sad, and the contrast of the two.
  • Just like we all have different experiences when we go to a play, we all get different things out of a year. This idea of the world as a theater isn't new (points if you can tell us who else made it famous), but we think Service does a good job of making it work.

Lines 47-48

Enough! Oh, ring the curtain down!
Old weary year! it's time to go.

  • Finally, the speaker says goodbye to the Old Year, and lets him go.
  • He's also lowering the curtain on his theater metaphor, which took up almost the whole poem.

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