New Year Resolutions Poem by Elizabeth Sewell | Main Idea, Explanation B.A Part 1

New Year Resolutions Poem

New Year Resolutions Poem

Poet’s Introduction| Elizabeth Sewell

Elizabeth Missing Sewell (1815-1906) was born at High Street, Newport, Isle of Wight(an island in England), in 1815. She belonged to a fairly large family of 11 siblings. Sewell was an author of educational and religious texts. 
 
She was very famous for her crisp, lucid, and pedagogical way of writing. She had attained a well-settled literary fame during the 19th century. She was famous for her dry humor. Her feministic efforts helped her raising the voice for women’s rights.
 
She never married and devoted all her life to the cause of better education for females. Her sister, Emma’s death in 1897 left Sewell very sad dejected and she never recovered from this shock. She died at Ashcliff, Bonchurch.
 

Main Idea

New Year is traditionally a time of making new resolutions. The poetess makes extraordinary resolutions. Her first resolution is that she would remain silent most of the time. She would think for long hours and purifies herself for the future.
 
Her second resolution is that she would ask herself twice a day who is she? what are her responsibilities. Her third resolution is to face the reality of life. Even though reality is better and based on bony arms but she would feel comfortable in the company of reality.
 
It is a criticism of those people who lead their lives without aims. They do not make decisions for the future. They do not want to face the reality of this world. They do not make aims and decisions for future life.
 
Through the resolutions, the poetess wants to convey the moral message of the poem. She says that human beings should live their lives according to the set pattern. They must analyze their past shortcomings. After taking stock of all past misdeeds the people should make plans for the future.
 

Explanation

Lines 1-3

 
I will drain
Long draughts of quiet
As a purgation;
 

Reference

These lines have been taken from the poem New Year Resolutions written by Elizabeth Sewell.
 

Context

The poem New Year Resolutions is very interesting and thought-provoking. The poetess has decided to make some resolutions at the arrival of the new year. She has decided to take stock of her past life. She wants to be aware of her shortcomings.
 
She has also resolved to realize the purpose of her creation and her duties as a humble creation of God. She has decided that she will be conscious of her good and bad deeds. She has the decision to spend a real and honest life. 
 

Explanation

In these lines, the poetess expresses That she has decided to welcome the new year with a better understanding of life. She vows to do three things in the new year. She will try to become a pure person. She will purify her soul from all past follies and foibles.
 
She will sit silently for a long time and take stock of her past life. She believes that meditation in silence will help her in knowing all her past shortcomings. Thus, she will get rid of all of them easily and become a person with a pure soul after self-assessment.
 

Lines 4-6

Remember
Twice daily
Who I am;

Reference:

Same as for lines 1-3

Context:   

Same as for lines 1-3

Explanation

This is the second stanza of the poem. In this stanza, The Poetess describes her second resolution that she will try to know her true identity and the true object of her life. She will try to know who she is. Why has been sent to this world? What are her duties and responsibilities? What has she done and what left undone? 
 
In fact, she will try to realize her duties towards God, towards herself, and towards humanity. After knowing the true object of her life, she will remember it twice a day before going to sleep. She will never forget her tasks and duties in her future life.
 

Lines 7-9

 
Will lie o’nights
In the bony arms
Of Reality and be comforted
 

Reference:

Same as for lines 1-3

Context:        

Same as for lines 1-3

Explanation

These are the last lines of the poem. In these lines, the poetess says that she will pass through the process of harsh accountability before going to sleep at night. She will face the reality, sweet or bitter, to analyze her own behavior during the day. Her own faults and bitter truths will not offend her. 
 
They will give her a strange kind of comfort and relief and so she will enjoy a sound sleep. In other words, she believes that though the path of truth and reality is full of hardships and bitter realities which a man of conscience has to face yet this is the very path that provides real mental and spiritual peace.
 
Actually, Elizabeth Sewell believes that life must be spent consciously and with a sense of responsibility. We should review our life, remove our follies and reform ourselves. We must cherish hopes for the achievement of noble deeds. We must face the bitter realities of life in sincere manners.
 

Important Questions and Answers

Question 1:
 
What new year resolutions does Elizabeth Sewell make in her poem New Year Resolutions?
 
Answer:
The poetess does not welcome the new year in a traditional manner. She has a firm belief that life must be spent consciously and with a sense of responsibility. She resolves that she will analyze her own mind and soul in order to find out her past follies and short-comings.
 
Firstly, the poetess resolves that she will remain silent. She will think over her past wrongs. The long hours of silence will help her in cleaning her inner self. She wants to commence the new year in a better and realistic manner. 
 
She has no intention to repeat the mistakes she did last year. She is determined and resolute to correct and improve her self every day. Secondly, the poetess resolves that she will think about her identity.
 
She will think twice a day who she really is? What are her responsibilities in this world? Thirdly, the poetess pledges that she will decide to face the reality of her life. She will think over her shortcomings and blunders with a cool mind.
 
She decides to feel ashamed of her mistakes that were done before. She will never desire to remain in a dream world. She will face the bitter reality of life with a stout heart. In this way, she will welcome the new year with new zeal and zest.
 
Question 2:
 
Discuss the literary qualities of the poem New Year Resolutions
 
Answer:
 
The poem is a criticism of those people who lead their lives without aims. They do not make plans for the future. The poem is a satire on the lazy people. They do not want to face the reality of this world.
 
The poet expresses her views that are based on the resolutions of the poetess. Through her resolutions and decisions, The poetess wants to convey the moral message of the poem. 
 
She says that human beings should live their lives according to the set rules. They must analyze their past and make good plans for a better future. The language of the poem is simple but impressive. The word Purgation is a medical term.
 
It means cleaning a wound from a germ. But poetess has used this term for cleansing the human shortcomings which are also like germs. The poem is based on realistic subject matter.
 
According to the poetess, life must spend consciously and with a sense of discipline. In this poem, Reality has been personified with a solace companion. The Potess sleeps in the company of reality. The poem is serious with a realistic theme
 
Question 3:
 
What is the moral or central idea of the poem?
 
Answer:
 
New Year Resolutions is a thought-provoking poem. In this poem, the poetess gives us an important message. She believes that life is temporary but we should spend life doing productive works. She says that we must take stock of our past life. 
 
We must analyze our weaknesses at the beginning of the new year. Self-examination will help us to correct ourselves. The poem criticizes that people are lazy and have no aims or goals in their lives. They are not decisive by nature.
 
They do not make decisions for the future. They do not want to face the reality of this world. They do not make aims and resolution in their lives. This poem presents a philosophical lesson. The poetess urges us to examine our past deeds.
 
It advises us to be always ready to correct ourselves. We must face the bitter things in a sincere manner. We must work for the betterment of our country and fellow beings.
 
We must analyze our deeds twice in a day. We must accept the harsh realities of life with a smiling face. We should not be discouraged after facing difficult situations in our life. We must welcome the new year with a stout heart.

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