Farewell, oh! Year of shadows; not alone
The shade of War has ever been with thee,
But Famine, in our land so little known,
Has cast on us a gloom of misery;
Oh! Lancashire, diseased and hard to cure,
God help thy blameless sons, to whom have come
Unmeasured sufferings, which they endure
In splendid silence, eloquently dumb!
Our sympathy is shown by word and deed,
England is proud to hear the story told
How all came rushing in the hour of need,
And one poor had even come with gold!
They all bring help to give the people bread,
And sometime we shall see them as they are,
The good girl with a crown upon head,
The poor man’s penny shining like a star!
Let us grow kinder as the years pass by,
For what is freely given from our store
Comes back in richer wealth of charity,
To make us better, happier than before.
Our latest meeting ere the season ends
Is near, then let there be no crack of doubt
In the rare vase of love! Come, all my friends,
And round the fire we’ll see the Old Year out!
Farewell! Old Year, dethroned mighty king,
Leave us in peace! take with thee grief and pain,
Take cruel War, take Want whom thou didst bring
With dreadful shapes that swell their gloomy train;
And yet, Old Year, a sad farewell we say
To some sweet hours of thine; when thou art gone
We look indeed for many a brighter day,
And wait far off to see the glimmering dawn.
Arise, New Year, for thine are clearer skies,
And Hope is one good angel sent with thee,
And Pity, with sweet sorrow in her eyes,
And tender hands to help our misery
Will come with thee! But what New Year will bring
The bond of love that fits our mortal state,
And draw round all the world its charmed ring,
While at the feet of God we work and wait?



Publication:Bury Guardian

Published in:Bury

Date:Dec 27 1862

Keywords:charity, morality, poverty, war


A note at the end of the poem reads: "Copies of the above, on cards and on paper, for one or two stamps, are supplied by Mr. H. Reed, publisher, 57 Oxford-Street, London, W. The profits from the sale will be given to the Lancashire Relief Fund."

This forty line poem has the general rhyme scheme of ABABCDCD. There is quite a strict adherence throughout to iambic pentameter although the metronomic effect of this is softened with enjambment and the use of some punctuation within the lines (medial caesurae). The form of address is interesting in that it switches between addressing personifications of the Old Year itself, and the county of Lancashire. The speaker, however appears from the sentiments expressed in the second stanza to associate with England, and there is an interesting relationship between nation and county being delineated.

Cotton Famine poetry publication in newspapers tended to cluster around the winter generally (and the winter of 1862/3 was generally agreed to be the worst during the Distress), but also around the annual festivals of Christmas and New Year, with the former’s associations with plenty and charity, and the latter’s associations with new beginnings. The concept of shedding the old year, here personified as a ‘dethroned king’ (l. 24), is used as an attempt to celebrate and encourage charitable giving for relief of the effects of the famine. However, though the poem begins with specific references to the distress in Lancashire in the first stanza, and celebrates the national efforts to relieve suffering in the second, the subsequent sections of the poem settle further into more general terms, and the poem becomes a more standard Victorian seasonal piece in its morals and sentiment. – SR