A poem to finish off the year from England’s poet laureate

Known for his version of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” fairytale

Ode Written on the First of January

  • Come melancholy Moralizer—come!
  • Gather with me the dark and wintry wreath;
  • With me engarland now
  • Come Moralizer to the funeral song!
  • I pour the dirge of the Departed Days,
  • For well the funeral song
  • Befits this solemn hour.
  • But hark! even now the merry bells ring round
  • With clamorous joy to welcome in this day,
  • This consecrated day,
  • To Mirth and Indolence.
  • Mortal! whilst Fortune with benignant hand
  • Fills to the brim thy cup of happiness,
  • Whilst her unclouded sun
  • Illumes thy summer day,
  • Canst thou rejoice—rejoice that Time flies fast?
  • That Night shall shadow soon thy summer sun?
  • That swift the stream of Years
  • Rolls to Eternity?
  • If thou hast wealth to gratify each wish,
  • If Power be thine, remember what thou art—
  • Remember thou art Man,
  • And Death thine heritage!
  • Hast thou known Love? does Beauty’s better sun
  • Cheer thy fond heart with no capricious smile,
  • Her eye all eloquence,
  • Her voice all harmony?
  • Oh state of happiness! hark how the gale
  • Moans deep and hollow o’er the leafless grove!
  • Winter is dark and cold—
  • Where now the charms of Spring?
  • Sayst thou that Fancy paints the future scene
  • In hues too sombrous? that the dark-stol’d Maid
  • With stern and frowning front
  • Appals the shuddering soul?
  • And would’st thou bid me court her faery form
  • When, as she sports her in some happier mood,
  • Her many-colour’d robes
  • Dance varying to the Sun?
  • Ah vainly does the Pilgrim, whose long road
  • Leads o’er the barren mountain’s storm-vext height,
  • With anxious gaze survey
  • The fruitful far-off vale.
  • Oh there are those who love the pensive song
  • To whom all sounds of Mirth are dissonant!
  • There are who at this hour
  • Will love to contemplate!
  • For hopeless Sorrow hails the lapse of Time,
  • Rejoicing when the fading orb of day
  • Is sunk again in night,
  • That one day more is gone.
  • And he who bears Affliction’s heavy load
  • With patient piety, well pleas’d he knows
  • The World a pilgrimage,
  • The Grave the inn of rest.

Robert Southey

Robert Southey

Robert Southey (1774-1843) was an English poet writing in the high Romantic style first pioneered by his fellow Lake Poets, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Southey served as poet laureate of England from 1813 until his death. While his poetry has mostly lived in the shadow of his more famous contemporaries, it still enjoys a healthy circulation among readers of the Romantics. But Southey is perhaps best known for popularizing an oral tale with his written version of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” (which is now considered the official text in the accepted canon of fairytales) and for his biography of English naval hero Admiral Horatio Nelson.

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