Sunday, 1 January 2017

Some Quotations for New Year's Day

Here are some New Year quotations where I have tracked down the original sources.

You may have come across a Tennyson often quoted, about “Hope smiles...”, but here is the fuller piece from his play about Robin and Maid Marion, “The Foresters”:

I am only merry for an hour or two
Upon a birthday: if this life of ours
Be a good glad thing, why should we make us merry
Because a year of it is gone? but Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come
Whispering ‘It will be happier;’ and old faces
Press round us, and warm hands close with warm hands,
And thro’ the blood the wine leaps to the brain
Like April sap to the topmost tree, that shoots
New buds to heaven, whereon the throstle rock’d
Sings a new song to the new year—and you,
Strike up a song, my friends, and then to bed.

Here is a piece on the new year by G.K. Chesterton from “The Daily News”, Chesterton Day by Day (1912):

The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. 

Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective. Unless a man starts on the strange assumption that he has never existed before, it is quite certain that he will never exist afterwards. Unless a man be born again, he shall by no means enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
And here is a poem from George MacDonald, from A Threefold Cord (1883)

Be welcome, year! with corn and sickle come;
Make poor the body, but make rich the heart:
What man that bears his sheaves, gold-nodding, home,
Will heed the paint rubbed from his groaning cart!
Nor leave behind thy fears and holy shames,
Thy sorrows on the horizon hanging low-
Gray gathered fuel for the sunset-flames
When joyous in death's harvest-home we go.

And finally, here is George VI’s famous speech from 1939, quoting Minnie Louise Haskins:

Among all free peoples the love of peace is profound, for this alone gives security to the home. But true peace is in the hearts of men, and it is the tragedy of this time that there are powerful countries whose whole direction and policy are based on aggression and the suppression of all that we hold dear for mankind.

At home we are, as it were, taking the strain for what may lie ahead of us, resolved and confident.

A new year is at hand. We cannot tell which it will bring. If it brings peace how thankful we shall all be. If it brings continued struggle, we shall remain undaunted.

In the meantime, I feel that we may all find a message of encouragement in the lines which, in my closing words, I would like to say to you.

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year. 'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown. ' And he replied. 'Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.'

May that Almighty hand guide and uphold us all.

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