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Ring Out, Wild Bells -- Alfred, Lord Tennyson

The old millennium changeth, yielding place to the new...
(Poem #653) 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 darkenss of the land,
 Ring in the Christ that is to be.
-- Alfred, Lord Tennyson
One of Tennyson's most famous poems - partly due to its association with
New Year's Eve, which ensures it a sort of recurrent popularity - but mostly
because it's a good poem in its own right.

Like most of Tennyson's poetry - indeed, as some people would argue, like
*all* poetry - today's poem is meant to be read aloud. And not just read
aloud, but declaimed - there is a fine dramatic quality to the lines that is
diminished if read silently.

'Ring Out, Wild Bells' was another childhood favourite, though I must
confess to being slightly less impressed by it of late. The problem with
poems like this is that there not only is there a fine line between noble
and sententious, but the placement of that line is highly subjective, and
the poem has a slightly preachy feel to it today that it lacked when I was
younger. Nonetheless, I do like it for its poetic virtues, and yes, because
the world needs more New Year's poems :)

Links:

Tennyson biography: poem #15

Compare Tagore's 'Where the Mind is Without Fear': poem #177

and Wordsworth's 'London, 1802': poem #128

And finally, happy new year, century, millennium or what-have-you.

-martin

105 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

me said...

Hello!

Just a word or two to let you know how much I appreciate your web
page featuring Tennyson's Ring out, Wild Bells.

Presently reading Ingrid Bergman's biography My Story, I was
intrigued by her description of New Year's Eve in Sweden and how the
poem, read by their famous actor, Anders de Wahl, ''was broadcast all
over Stockholm from loudspeakers. You could hear it in every street
in the city—you didn't even have to listen to the radio.''

Well, not being familiar with this poem, I was delighted to Google it
and find your page at the very top of the menu.

It is a lovely poem and I am going to keep it aside for this coming
New Year's Eve with my children.

So, thank you.

Sincerely,
Sandra Miller
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Anonymous said...

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หนังโป๊ออนไลน์ said...

It is a lovely poem and I am going to keep it aside for this coming
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yoganand said...

the poem is typical of the times that it was written in: the guilt-stricken Victorian anxiety comes through clearly....couldn't help comparing the closing lines of Shelley's Westwind Ode.."if winter comes, can spring be far behind?"...remember, the setting of the poem is the end of the year...winter...'snow'...'frost'

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