“Ring Out Wild Bells” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson is traditionally read in Sweden on New Year’s Eve, in translation of course. I woke up on this first day of 2013 with the first three lines running through my mind. The “he” referred to is Arthur Hallam, an eloquent, enthusiastic, high spirited young man who died, leaving Tennyson to his own more gloomy, introspective devices. The poet wrote an elegy in sections like this one over 17 years.
It isn’t necessary to know that to enjoy the poem, however, for, like all great poetry, it manages to suit the time in which we read it. Nevertheless, to me the poem is a call to let go of past grief and misery and to press forward with a hopeful heart.
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 thy 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.
To hear bells try http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q00Nw8HSE-8