Featured New Year Poem: Ring Out, Wild Bells by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Something odd has been happening to the blog – I don’t know if it just doesn’t like the snow – but this poem, which was due to be with you on New Year’s Eve, is only getting to you today (technical problems, don’t ask). Although it’s a little late, I hope you enjoy it all the same…

We’re nearing the end of a cycle of another twelve months; as John Lennon would put it, another year over. The usual reflections, reminiscing and looking with a sense of anticipation – and sometimes, trepidation – to the future that this time of year brings about are somewhat stronger given that we’re also entering not just another year, but another decade. The ‘noughties’ have brought a lot of change, some for the better, some for the worse (have a look at this ‘portrait of the decade’ – interesting to see how the 2000s have been summed up). We can look back fondly at the things that made us smile, and be thankful that the things that didn’t are now consigned to the past.

The ringing in of a new decade makes this poem by Tennyson especially appropriate, as our collective hopes and wishes are amplified. Nothing can be done to alter the time that has passed, little to the time that is passing but what is to come can be shaped. The new year heralds a new start, a clean page. As the wild bells welcome in 2010, we should heed Tennyson’s words and even though it may seem difficult, let go of the old, look to the new and hope only for the best.

Ring Out, Wild Bells

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

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