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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

New Year’s Wishes

By Adam Mickiewicz (1798–1855)

From the ‘Poets and Poetry of Poland,’ edited by Paul Soboleski

THE OLD year is dead, and from its ashes blossoms bright

New Phœnix, spreading wings o’er the heavens far and near;

Full of hopes and wishes, earth salutes it with delight.

What should I for myself desire on this glad New Year?

Say, happy moments!… I know these lightning flashes swift,

When they the heavens open and gild the wide earth o’er,

We wait the assumption till the weary eyes we lift

Are darkened by a night sadder than e’er known before.

Say, ’tis love I wish!… that youthful frenzy full of bliss

Bears one to spheres platonic—to joys divine I know.

Till the strong and gay are hurled down pain’s profound abyss,

Hurled from the seventh heaven upon the rocks below.

I have dreamed and I have pined. I soared and then I fell.

Of a peerless rose I dreamed, and to gather it I thought,

When I awoke. Then vanished the rose with the dream’s bright spell—

Thorns in my breast alone were left—Love I desire not!

Shall I ask for friendship?… that fair goddess who on earth

Youth creates? Ah! who is there who would not friendship crave?

She is first to give imagination’s daughter birth.

Ever to the uttermost she seeks its life to save.

Friends, how happy are ye all! Ye live as one, and hence

Ever the self-same power has o’er ye all control,

Like Armida’s palm whose leaves seemed separate elements

While the whole tree was nourished by one accursed soul.

But when the fierce and furious hail-storms strike the tree,

Or when the venomous insects poison it with their bane,

In what sharp suffering each separate branch must be

For others and itself…. I desire not friendship’s pain!

For what, then, shall I wish, on this New Year just begun?

Some lovely by-place—bed of oak—where sweet peace descends,

From whence I could see never the brightness of the sun,

Hear the laugh of enemies, or see the tears of friends!

There until the world should end, and after that to stay

In sleep which all my senses against all power should bind,

Dreaming as I dreamt my golden youthful years away,

Love the world—wish it well—but away from humankind.