For New Year’s Day in my Anthology from Canterbury Press, Waiting on the Word, I have chosen to read another section of Tennyson’s In Memoriam, the famous and beautiful section about ringing out the old and ringing in the new which finishes with a vision of the true Advent, ‘the Christ that is to be’.
You can hear me read this poem by clicking on the title or the play button. The image above was created by Linda Richardson. She Writes:
I have to confess that I don’t remember ever enjoying New Years Day. I always have the feeling that I am an unprepared host for this important guest, who, instead of finding my house with the bed made up and a roaring fire, discovers me amid the accumulated dross of previous revelry. The image I made does not reflect the hope of the poem, probably because I don’t believe in the great ringing in of the new – I don’t see it happening in the world.
What I can believe in, is that Christ can ring in me and in you. Annie Dillard, the American author and poet says, ‘I had been my whole life a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck.’ And so to the extent we ring for Christ, we also ring for the world.
You can find the words, and a short reflective essay on this poem in Waiting on the Word, which is now also available on Kindle
In Memoriam CVI Alfred Lord 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.
4 responses to “New Year’s Day Tennyson’s ‘Wild Bells’”
Dear Malcolm – how rich to encounter “Waiting on the Word” again this year through you selections and blog posts….AND thank you for partnering with Linda Richardson for her art and personal commentary. The New Year’s Eve and this New Year Day posts are particularly poignant for this ‘season’ in the global community.
I have sent Linda a FaceBookFriend request to thank her and to connect with more of her work.
Thanks Roger I’m glad you found it helpful
Once again you have provided a rich source for meditation over Advent and christmas into New Year enhanced by Linda’s work. Thank you both very much. I have bought all your books but still enjoy seeing what turns up on my ipad each day. Are you doing Lent?
Many thanks Carole. Yes I shall do a web accompaniment to Word in the Wilderness for Lent