Monday, December 29, 2014

Monday's Poetry: "Ring Out, Wild Bells"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

The year 2014 will come to a close later this week, though some would argue that it actually ended last week with the advent of the winter solstice.  The earth has once again circled the sun, a journey which it has completed at least six or seven billion times before - despite what America's tea-baggers or the Texas Board of Education might blather to the contrary.

For those of us living north of the equator, the year ends in winter - to varying degrees - depending just how far north of the equator we happen to reside.  West Plains, Missouri, being just north of 36 degrees above the equator does not suffer too much brutal winter, but it feels damned cold for someone who has been used to wintering in Phoenix!

But be that as it may, the trip around the sun that much of mankind arbitrarily referred to as 2014 is almost at an end.  The days are already getting longer, though sadly not warmer.  The end of one year and the beginning of another represents a time of renewal, and it has historically been met with joyous celebration.

This week a ball will drop in Times Square in New York City.  Horns will blare, champagne corks will pop, and fireworks will light the night sky.   People will hug, and kiss, and party in a much anticipated frenzy of excess - and the liquor will flow.

New Year's is always a grand excuse to party!

Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote the following poem, "Ring Out, Wild Bells,"  in 1850, the same year in which he became the Poet Laureate of England.  It resonates with the peal of church bells, an historically common way of ringing in the New Year.   I like the cadence of this poem, the way it sing-songs between "ringing out" the ills of society, and "ringing in" things that would uplift us.   The last two lines made me think of the overt honesty and courageous good works of Pope Francis.

If you spend your New Year's Eve in quiet solitude, as a few of us do, listen for Tennyson's church bells.  They are still ringing across the land and around the earth - as it spins ever onward.

Ring Out, Wild Bells
by 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 thy 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.

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