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The New Year
John Shaw


May the year that is dawning
   So fresh and so pure,
Be full of the pleasures
   That always endure.

The sunshine of love,
   The joy of kind deeds,
The brightness of smiles
   That the sad world so needs.

The kindly word uttered,
   The angry unspoken:
The merry heart's laughter,
   To heal the hearts broken.

And when the New Year
   Has grown old and gray,
May you give it back spotless
   And pure as today.

This poem is in the public domain.



John Shaw (1778 - 1809) was born in Maryland, studied medicine at the Universities of Pennsylvania and Edinburgh, and served as a physician and ship surgeon in the U.S. Navy before establishing a private practice in Baltimore. Successful and widely respected, he was instrumental in founding the College of Medicine at the University of Maryland. By all accounts a charming and modest man, John was fluent in several languages and wrote poetry on an ongoing basis. He also kept notes about his travels. Had he lived longer, critics surmize that John might have developed into a writer of significant standing. Unfortunately, he died at the age of thirty on a ship en route from Charleston, South Carolina, to the Bahamas--a voyage undertaken, ironically, in the hope of healing his tuberculosis; his small body of work was published posthumously by a group of his friends.


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