Happy New Year!
Why don’t we celebrate with a section from In Memoriam A.H.H. Tennyson wrote this poem, with its cantos of raw grief enveloped by a calmer ring of a Prologue and an Epilogue, to mourn the untimely death of his friend. Part of the structure of this poem works around annual celebrations that work in the poem as a kind of scaffolding. The chaos of the raw elegy is organized in a ritual manner with a return to Hallam’s birthday and Christ’s nativity. This section of the poem follows the Christmas cantos of 104 and 105, and comes right before a section memorializing Hallam’s birth on February 1st.
I thought it resonated with our New Year’s festivities, especially this year…
In Memoriam A. H. H. CVI
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.
And here’s a fabulous rendition of the poem, that Tennyson could have never imagined…