Sunday Poetry – Alfred, Lord Tennyson

I’m not quite finished with the New Year just yet. I came across this poem by Tennyson, which is actually a section of his much longer work, In Memoriam, in Janet Morley’s anthology, Haphazard by Starlight. The anthology has one poem a day to read from Advent to Epiphany so I finished reading it last week.
This poem encapsulates the sadness & melancholy of the dying year so beautifully, especially in the context of In Memoriam, which was about the death of Tennyson’s great friend, Arthur Hallam, who died at the age of 22 in 1833. It’s also about looking forward to the new year as well, with hope & optimism. My current audio book is Ian Carmichael’s wonderful recording of The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L Sayers. The book, as well as being a detective novel & an evocative picture of the Fens, is about bell-ringing so the image of ringing bells in Tennyson’s poem is appropriate there as well.

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.

2 thoughts on “Sunday Poetry – Alfred, Lord Tennyson

  1. What a beautiful poem – I only ever knew the beginning … Isn't it amazing how times don't seem to have changed all that much from the 19th to the 21st century? I hope 2016 will really see a start to “ring(ing) out the thousand wars of old, ring(ing) in the thousand years of peace” to allow people to live safely and contentedly in their home-countries.
    By the way, The Nine Taylors is actually my second most favourite novel by D. L. Sayers.
    Once again, all the best for 2016!


  2. Happy New Year, Elisabeth. I finished Nine Tailors yesterday afternoon, just wonderful. If only we didn't have to keep wishing for the end of wars. Unfortunately nothing ever really changes.


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