The Turning Year in Poem and Song

The great earth spins, morning to night and back again, season upon season, the eternal return, its unalterable rhythm punctuated in the days of our own lives by our scurryings after food and drink, fun and rapture and love. The lives we make are all our own, yet beneath each one, a Great Commonality, a stickiness to others, all others, across all space and time, who harbor near-identical needs, dreams, longings, and questions of the night.

Below, a poem reflecting that commonality, the universal rhythms and rituals of our daily lives, given perspective and focus at this turning of the year, the turning of a hand toward another, the turning of the shovel as we lay a beloved to rest, the turning to light as the winter solstice recedes and spring beckons us anew.

All the best to you, my friends, in 2020.



                   THE YEAR

By Ellen Wheeler Wilcox (1910)

What can be said in New Year rhymes,
That’s not been said a thousand times?
The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.
We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.
We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.
We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our brides, we sheet our dead.
We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that’s the burden of the year.


So deeply do I love “Auld Lang Syne” (whatever time of year it is!), that I can’t honestly say I’ve ever heard a bad version of it (even Kenny G’s…). I’ll only add that if you can get through this version, by the Spanish orchestra/humanitarian organization “Vocesparalapaz,” without going a little mushy, then make it your first resolution of 2020 to get thee to the Heart Repair Shop (just Google your local listings) for some needed thawing and rejuvenation…

Meanwhile, please help yourself to this eight minutes of loveliness as a tonic with which to go forth in fearless love for the New Year.



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Elizabeth Haslam, whose photos (except for the books) grace the rotating banner at top of page.

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15 comments to The Turning Year in Poem and Song

  • Julie Johnson  says:

    Good morning and good new year, Andrew! Thank you for this lovely recording. In Scotland, Auld Lang Syne isn’t just for New Year: it concludes almost every special event, like ceilidhs or wedding parties. Last night, after midnight had passed, I found this version and played it, as I do every year. It is the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999. Despite the recording wobbles, it gets me every time.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Oh, thank you so very much, Julie! Got me, too!! Always love it when soloist gives way to slowly entering orchestra, joined by chorus & sing-along. I don’t think there’s a more soulful song anywhere in the musical firmament, and Ms. Eddi did it proud; am very glad to make her acquaintance. Happy New Year!

      • Julie Johnson  says:

        Did you spy Sean Connery?

        • Andrew Hidas  says:

          I did not! Good excuse to give it another look & listen…

  • Robert Spencer  says:

    2020: Christmas All Year Long

    Amid this dirge of political strife,
    Ominous clouds stifle both hope and cheer,
    Lest never forget the wonder of life,
    Sharing joyous moments with those so dear.
    Cardinal lullabies wafting amid trees,
    Tiptoeing through misty air so adorned,
    Lights flicker through panes glistening glee,
    Noels roll through a starlit evening air,
    Hot cider and eggnog laughter abound,
    Blissful smiles arise from memories shared,
    Hearts adopt the spirits of holiday sounds,
    Kindly thoughts interlace soul unto soul,
    Good fosters the space that makes all feel whole.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Thanks, Robert! I’ll take one of each (cardinal lullabies, misty air, noels, hot cider & nog, etc…). Happy New Year!

  • Robert Spencer  says:

    The last scenes of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “When Harry Met Sally” do celluloid justice to “Auld Lang Syne.”

  • Bruce Curran  says:

    Andrew, a lovely and captivating poem and moving rendition of the song. As an individual of Scottish/Celtic descent I was most moved by your insightful phrase about the changing of the season. “the turning to light as the winter solstice recedes and spring beckons us anew.” it completely encapsulates my feelings at this time of year which I come by honestly. My ancestors, back in the day, perhaps 4000 to 5000 years ago erected a number of large stone monuments which speak directly to your quote. They, as I, were pathologically concerned about when ( and possibly if) the sun and the warmth were coming back. I too would go out in the back yard and build a henge of some sort if I thought it would bring the sun back any quicker. Your lovely phrase gives me along with the Celts of 5000 years ago hope for the return of our favorite season.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Thanks for writing, Bruce. Scot that you are, be sure to check out Julie’s link above to the Scottish Parliament dedication if you haven’t already. It’s a keeper. Really looking forward to visiting there come the spring!

  • kirkthill  says:

    And a Joyous New Year to you and all. Last night our band played at our 5th? New Years Party. It’s a spectacular big house with concrete walls and ceramic floor, thus, very poor acoustics. But when our new celloist soloed Old Lang Syne, it reverberated off the walls, piercing hearts, spilling tears of hope and regrets, and kisses shared. Something about that song digs up emotions you can’t suppress. Here is a similar sample.

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Good on ya for rock & rolling into yet another decade, Kirk; how fortunate we are! Beautiful version, too—can’t go wrong with this song, nor with the cello, to my way way of thinking. Happy 2020!

  • Kevin Feldman  says:

    Happy New Year indeed Andrew and fellow blog readers! – thanks for the 3 great versions of Auld Lang Syne, brings to mind a cranky but lovable old pal of my Mom & Dads, Arch McDonald, who was Scotch as he could be, and thought Robert Burns (who is usually credited w/”collecting” the lyrics and putting them to music) was God’s gift to the arts – he may be right, for in 2009 the Scots voted Burns the most “Greatest Scot of All Time” , narrowly edging out William Wallace. Who knew!?! Prompting reflections on friendships as we all do our best to create meaningful/joyful lives is so movingly evoked in this poetic simple tune – here’s a fun 3 min read from Scotland Now detailing the backstory of Auld Lang Syne:

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Thanks, Kevin, nice to read about the tradition of interlocking hands and singing “Auld…” before midnight, which I’d never done before but we did at Mary’s behest on New Year’s Eve at a dinner party for seven people that broke up more like 10:30 than midnight (all the guests were of a certain age!!). It was great fun, and we all more or less collapsed in giggles & hugs at the end, with a tip o’ the cap to Robert Burns, who is indeed the closest thing to Scotland’s patron saint we will ever hear or sing about. So: 2020! What will our world be like in 2030? I hope I’m around to find out! (While being slightly afraid of what it might reveal…) Cheers, anyway!

  • Susan  says:

    Lovely post, Drew — and such a wonderful rendition of Auld Lang Syne. Happy New Year!

    • Andrew Hidas  says:

      Very glad you enjoyed, Susan. Hope 2020 blooms in all the best ways for you!

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