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.
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