NEW YEAR RESOLUTION – Critical Appreciation of the Poem & Exercises

NEW YEAR RESOLUTION – (Elizabeth Sewell)

What are the three resolutions which the poetess wants to make at the arrival of New Year?
How does the poetess welcome the New Year?
What is the real beauty of the poem, ‘New Year Resolutions’?
The poem is very brief, but is a master piece literature.
The poem can be reduced to one sentence but it is still estimated as the highest form of literary expression. Discuss it.

‘New Year Resolution’ may be taken as a precious piece of advice to lead a good and successful life in this society. Three sound and solid resolutions which the poetess makes at the even of the next year sum up the golden principles of a respectable life.

According to the poetess, the life must be spent consciously and with a sense of discipline. It is absurd to spend lie in a care free and jovial manner. We must take stock of our good and week point through out the year. We should try to correct our weaknesses by self-examination. It is our accountability by our own conscience which corrects our life.

The poetess does not welcome the New Year in a traditional manner. In this brief but thought-provoking poem, she urges us to examine our own ‘self’ in the beginning of every year. She wants to drink deep at the fountain of thoughts. It is only in quietness and moments of calm that she can search her own soul search in moments that she will purge out the sins and shortcomings of herself. This meditation may become a means of cleansing herself. It is with clean mind and soul that she will welcome the New Year.

The poetess is a realist. She does not run away from the harsh realities of life. She wants to know her identity and nature quite impartially. She wants to know abut herself and her duties to her fellow beings and to her God. In solitude man comes to know about his obligations in society. Being a husband, father, mother, brother, son, friend and citizen of a country he has different responsibilities. Again as a farmer, businessman, and a soldier and as an administrator or a clerk etc. one has to perform various kinds of tasks.

Idealistic and unrealistic attitude of life create a lot of worries and troubles in our life. Although reality is bitter, ugly and painful yet we should accept it and learn to live with it. Therefore the poetess declares that she would like to pas the whole night in the ‘bony arms of Reality’.

As a result of the fulfillment of the above-mentioned resolutions she will be satisfied and comfortable.


What new resolutions do you make?

At the arrival of a new year different persons make different resolutions. Being a student I make my own resolution. I stop for a while in the journey of life to ponder upon what I have lost and what gained. Different calculations tell me that I have lost much as compared to what I have gained. Thus I begin to endeavor for improvement to make my personality better. Every time I find myself making resolutions to check the way of temptations.

Every year I have resoled to avoid backbiting, flattery, lie and dishonesty. As long as I possess the owner of resolutions I avoid all these evils. Some times I feel myself weak but I get energy by my will power.


1. Do you find this different form other poems you have read?
2. Where has personification been used in this poem. Point it out.
3. Which one of the resolutions do you like most and why?
4. Compare the last stanza of this poem with the escapism of the king of Tartary. Write 120 words.

Quotations and references for this poem

1) Speech is silver, silence is gold.
2) “The mind is its own place and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”
3) “Never tell your resolution beforehand”.
4) “You may be whatever you resolve to be. Determine to do something in the world and you will be”.

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