Home  »  Every Day in the Year A Poetical Epitome of the World’s History  »  The Last of the New Year’s Callers

James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

January 1

The Last of the New Year’s Callers

By Henry Cuyler Bunner (1855–1896)

  • The story of an old man, an old man’s friendship, and a new card-basket.

  • THE DOOR is shut—I think the fine old face

    Trembles a little, round the under lip:

    His look is wistful—can it be the place

    Where, at his knock, the bolt was quick to slip

    (It had a knocker then), when, bravely decked,

    He took, of New Year’s, with his lowest bow,

    His glass of egg-nog, white and nutmeg-flecked,

    From her who is—where is the young bride now?

    O Greenwood, answer! Through your ample gate

    There went a hearse, these many years ago;

    And often by a grave—more oft of late—

    Stands an old gentleman, with hair like snow.

    Two graves he stands by, truly; for the friend

    Who won her, long has lain beside his wife;

    And their old comrade, waiting for the end,

    Remembers what they were to him in life.

    And now he stands before the old-time door,

    A little gladdened in his lonely heart

    To give of love for those that are no more

    To those that live to-day a generous part.

    Ay, She has gone, sweet, loyal, brave and gay—

    But then, her daughter’s grown and wed the while;

    And the old custom lingers: New Year’s Day.

    Will not she greet him with her mother’s smile?

    But things are changed, ah, changed, you see;

    We keep no New Year’s now, not we—

    It’s an old-time day,

    And an old-time way,

    And an old-time fashion we’ve chosen to cut—

    And the dear old man

    May wait as he can

    In front of the old-time door that’s shut.