TOPICS > Arts

Happy New Year!

December 30, 1999 at 12:00 AM EDT

TRANSCRIPT

ROBERT PINSKY:

A TOAST FOR 2000

And here’s to Memory, that numbers all the years.
Here tipped at the arbitrary border, we living
On the night of cameras, dancing and champagne
Drink to those others who come behind or ahead:

We pray that the Past and Future be forgiving?
The not-yet-born in their invisible chain
And, nearly as hard for us to know, the dead?
Overlook the times we haven’t paid them heed

As we forgive them for giving less thought to us
Than we might like. In our abundant time
Of clever machines, some of us live in need.
Our beloved gadgets are fearsome and mysterious.

Great-grandparents: though forgetting is no crime,
We strain to remember you, and raise a glass.
Great-grandchildren: do the same! The triple zeros
That mark the millenial year are like three spheres

Or lights or chain-links. As the centuries pass,
Past, Present and Future, victims, villains and heroes,
Each crosses the calendar border and disappears?
Or lives in Memory, that numbers all the years.