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New Tear's Day.
Sit thee by the ingle, when
The sear faggot blazes bright,
Spirit of a winter's night;
When the soundless earth is muffled,
And the caked snow is shuffled
From the ploughboy's heavy shoon;
When the Night doth meet the Noon
In a dark conspiracy
To banish Even from her sky,
Sit thee there, and send abroad,
With a mind self-overawed,
Fancy, high-commission'd;—send her!
She has vassals to attend her;
She will bring, in spite of frost,
Beauties that the earth hath lost;
She will bring thee, all together,
All delights of summer weather;
All the buds and bells of May,
From dewy sward or thorny spray;
All the heaped autumn's wealth,
With a still, mysterious stealth:
She will mix these pleasures up
Like three fit wines in a cup,
And thou shalt quaff it:—thou shalt hear
Distant harvest-carols clear;
Bustle of the reaped corn;
Keats. The crocus in the shrewd March morn
Thrusts up its saffron spear; And April dots the sombre thorn
With gems and loveliest cheer.
Then sleep the seasons, full of might,
While slowly swells the pod,
The mushroom bursts the sod.
The winter comes, the frozen rut
Is bound with silver bars;
And night is pierced with stars.
Stern winter's icy breath, intensely keen,
Year is not only an astronomical, but a natural period, and the first imperfect year of ancient times must, no doubt, have originated from observing the regular vicissitudes of heat and cold, of the leafing, flowering, and fruiting of the various tribes of vegetables; and the coincidence of these appearances with the laying and hatching of birds, and the production of the young of quadrupeds. This way of reckoning, however, was subject to so many variations, that it was soon necessary to make choice of some more constant periodical occurrence by which to mark the annual revolution.
The ancient year began in the month of March, and it may appear singular, that modern civilised nations should choose to commence their year at a period when nature lies almost dormant, in preference to that season when the race of vegetables and animals is actually renewed. In defence of the present custom it may, however, be said, that the time of the renovation of nature varies in different countries,