At the Entering of the New Year
By Thomas Hardy
December 31. During the War.
Our songs went up and out the chimney,
And roused the home-gone husbandmen;
Our allemands, our heys, poussettings,
Our hands-across and back again,
Sent rhythmic throbbings through the casements
On to the white highway,
Where nighted farers paused and muttered,
"Keep it up well, do they!"
The contrabasso's measured booming
Sped at each bar to the parish bounds,
To shepherds at their midnight lambings,
To stealthy poachers on their rounds;
And everybody caught full duly
The notes of our delight,
As Time unrobed the Youth of Promise
Hailed by our sanguine sight.
We stand in the dusk of a pine-tree limb,
As if to give ear to the muffled peal,
Brought or withheld at the breeze's whim;
But our truest heed is to words that steal
From the mantled ghost that looms in the gray,
And seems, so far as our sense can see,
To feature bereaved Humanity,
As it sighs to the imminent year its say:-
"O stay without, O stay without,
Calm comely Youth, untasked, untired;
Though stars irradiate thee about
Thy entrance here is undesired.
Open the gate not, mystic one;
Must we avow what we would close confine?
With thee, good friend, we would have
Albeit the fault may not be thine."
We all slept late and spent a quiet New Year's morning, then spent the afternoon with my parents, who offered to drive us all downtown to the US Botanical Garden since we discovered that the reason our low tire pressure light kept coming on while driving home from Longwood Gardens is that there's some kind of metal spike in one of the rear tires and the hubcap is missing as well. The minivan will get that fixed on Wednesday since everything was closed on Tuesday, but the arboretum was open for the last day of the winter holiday displays. The line for the trains was so long (outdoors in the cold) that we skipped it; instead we walked around the poinsettia displays and miniatures of DC monuments made from plant materials as well as the regular regional exhibits.
The miniature of the Supreme Court surrounded by poinsettias.
A turtle topiary and oversized holiday ornament.
Santa's reindeer dancing.
The US Botanical Garden inside the US Botanical Garden.
A miniature of the Arboretum's outdoor fountain set in the jungle room fountain, with one of the miniature trains through the glass behind it.
There are several large plant-filled ornaments throughout the regions.
Emu and bear topiaries by the fountains among the poinsettias.
And here are my parents, Paul and kids in front of the miniature Capitol.
We had dinner with my parents (and more importantly dessert, since my parents had many leftovers from New Year's Eve including lots of chocolate stuff), then came home and watched the end of the Rose Bowl. Afterward we watched Red Tails, which has a pretty weak screenplay (lots of predictable war cliches and a couple of scenes that seemed pretty stereotypical to me) but the Tuskegee Airmens' story is so compelling that I liked the film anyway. The cast gave better performances than I expected from some of the reviews (ignore Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb comments, they're idiotic) but I wish the story had focused more closely on the real lives of a couple of the men instead of trying to cover so many of their experiences in broad strokes.