Poetry Sunday: In Memoriam, [Ring out, wild bells]

In only two more days we will be seeing in the year 2014. Where did 2013 go?

I would never have believed it when I was a child, but I have learned as I get older that time does speed up. The years whiz by before we have time to fully experience them.

And what can we do about that? Nothing. Nothing but prepare to ring in the new year and hope for better things from it than we got from the old year.

The poet Alfred Tennyson knew about that wish. One of the most well-loved of the Victorian poets, he wrote this poem about seeing out the old year and seeing in the new and about the hopes that the new year will bring good things to humankind.

In Memoriam, [Ring out, wild bells]

  by Lord Alfred Tennyson
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.

"Ring in the love of truth and right, Ring in the common love of good...Ring in the thousand years of peace." Let it be so.


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