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

January 1

Twenty-eight and Twenty-nine

By William Mackworth Praed (1802–1839)

I HEARD a sick man’s dying sigh,

And an infant’s idle laughter:

The Old Year went with mourning by—

The New came dancing after!

Let Sorrow shed her lonely tear—

Let Revelry hold her ladle;

Bring boughs of cypress for the bier—

Fling roses on the cradle;

Mutes to wait on the funeral state,

Pages to pour the wine:

A requiem for Twenty-eight,

And a health to Twenty-nine!

Alas for human happiness!

Alas for human sorrow!

Our yesterday is nothingness—

What else will be our morrow?

Still Beauty must be stealing hearts,

And Knavery stealing purses;

Still cooks must live by making tarts,

And wits by making verses;

While sages prate, and courts debate,

The same stars set and shine;

And the world, as it rolled through Twenty-eight,

Must roll through Twenty-nine.

Some king will come, in heaven’s good time,

To the tomb his father came to;

Some thief will wade through blood and crime

To a crown he has no claim to;

Some suffering land will rend in twain

The manacles that bound her,

And gather the links of the broken chain

To fasten them proudly round her;

The grand and great will love and hate

And combat and combine;

And much where we were in Twenty-eight,

We shall be in Twenty-nine.

O’Connell will toil to raise the Rent,

And Kenyon to sink the Nation;

And Shiel will abuse the Parliament,

And Peel the Association;

And thought of bayonets and swords

Will make ex-Chancellors merry;

And jokes will be cut in the House of Lords

And throats in the County of Kerry;

And writers of weight will speculate

On the Cabinet’s design;

And just what it did in Twenty-eight

It will do in Twenty-nine.

And the goddess of Love will keep her smiles,

And the god of Cups his orgies;

And there’ll be riots in St. Giles,

And weddings in St. George’s;

And mendicants will sup like kings,

And lords will swear like lacqueys;

And black eyes oft will lead to rings,

And rings will lead to black eyes;

And pretty Kate will scold her mate,

In a dialect all divine;

Alas! they married in Twenty-eight

They will part in Twenty-nine.

My uncle will swathe his gouty limbs,

And talk of his oils and blubbers;

My aunt, Miss Dobbs, will play longer hymns,

And rather longer rubbers;

My cousin in Parliament will prove

How utterly ruined trade is;

My brother, at Eaton, will fall in love

With half a hundred ladies;

My patron will sate his pride from plate,

And his thirst from Bordeaux wine—

His nose was red in Twenty-eight,

’T will be redder in Twenty-nine.

And O! I shall find how, day by day,

All thoughts and things look older—

How the laugh of Pleasure grows less gay,

And the heart of Friendship colder;

But still I shall be what I have been,

Sworn foe to Lady Reason,

And seldom troubled with the spleen,

And fond of talking treason;

I shall buckle my skait, and leap my gate,

And throw and write my line;

And the woman I worshipped in Twenty-eight

I shall worship in Twenty-nine.