San Francisco New Year's, 1907

By Nora May French

Said the Old Year to the New: "They will never
    welcome you
As they sang me in and rang me in upon my
    birthday night—
All above the surging crowd, bells and voices
    calling loud—
  A throng attunded to laughter and a city all alight.

"Kind had been the years of old, drowsy-lidded,
    zoned with gold;
  They swept their purples down the bat and sped
    the homeward keel;
The years of fruits and peace, smiling days and
    rich increase—
  Too indolent with wine and sun to grasp the
    slaying steel.

"As my brothers so I came, panther-treading,
    silken, tame;
  The sword was light within my hand, I kept it
    sheathed and still—
The jeweled city prayed me and the laughing
    voices stayed me—
  A little while I pleased them well and gave them
    all their will.

"As a panther strikes to slay, so I wrenched my
    shuttering prey.
  I lit above the panic throng my torches' crimson
    flare;
For they made my coming bright and I gave them
    light for light—
  I filled the night with flaming winfs and Terror's
    streaming hair.

"They were stately walls and high—as I felled
    them so they lie—
  Lie like bodies torn and broken, lie like faces
    seamed with scars;
Here where Beauty dwelt and Pride, ere my torches
    flamed and died,
  The empty arches break the night to frame the
    tranquil stars.

"Though of all my brothers scorned, I, betrayer,
    go unmourned,
  It is I who tower shoulder-high above the level
    years;
You who come to build anew, joy will live again
    with you,
  But mightiest I who walked with Death and taught
    the sting of tears!"