Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Themes

Well, maybe this seems a little obvious for a poem about New Year's, but we just had to get it in here. Without the idea of the passing of time and the feelings that go along with it, this poem just couldn't exist. "The Passing of the Year" is all about change, what it feels like to go from one moment to the other. Time is always flowing past us, but New Year's is one moment where we can pause and think about it. Yes, we know – deep thoughts.

Questions About Time

  1. Does this poem capture the feeling of the changing year? If so, where do you see that happening?
  2. Do you think poetry can freeze a moment in time? Is that what's happening here, or is there a sense of time passing?
  3. This poem revolves around personification – turning the "old year" into a person. Does that work for you? What happens when time becomes a character?
  4. This poem was written almost a hundred years ago. Does the language or the style make it feel far away from you?

Chew on This

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

"The Passing of the Year" compresses all the emotion of a year into a single moment. In doing so, it allows us to feel many complex, contradictory feelings at the same time.

Service uses his poem to expand a fleeting thought about the end of the year. His epic metaphor gives that brief idea lasting, substantial power.

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