The memorization of a speech or poem to be performed before an audience was considered important to child development and a way to produce a society of adults ready, willing and able to participate in public speaking.
The book opens with a one-act play for the new-year. It is titled Father Time and His Children. The cast is made up of Father Time and the twelve months of the year. White bearded Father Time is surrounded by the 12 months with each month’s costume a reflection of its season.
We are told that scenery may be simple of elaborate, but it is suggested that a large sun-dial be placed center stage where Father Time will stand. The play opens with Father Time reminding us that we are all governed by time. When his recitation is finished, he introduces his children. One by one the months tell their story. It is suggested that January be announced by bells, horns, whistles, cheering, and for the energetic director, the sprinkling of paper snowflakes on the stage.
And so, January takes the stage and recites the following:
When the old year dies at midnight’s chime
Behold, I appear!
The eldest and youngest child of Time,
The Happy New Year!
Two faces I wear, like the Roman god
At the temple door,
Surveying the path by pilgrims trod,
And the path before.
Backward looking, and looking ahead,
Like that god in Rome;
We read the roads we have yet to tread
By the roads we’ve come.
Then Janus-wise, with our double view,
Let us bear in mind
To bring no faults to the year that’s new
From the years behind;
Only good counsels by which we live,
Good thoughts and good cheer,
For that is the way to get and give
A Happy New Year!
Happy New Year from the WMI. We will be closed Dec. 31-Jan. 3.