Ring Out, Wild Bells

 

bellsringing

 

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 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.

— by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1850

“Ring Out, Wild Bells” forms part of In Memoriam, Tennyson’s elegy to his sister’s fiance, Arthur Henry Hallam, who died at the age of 22.  On the last day of every year in Sweden, the poem is recited — in a loose translation — to commemorate the year’s end. It’s a tradition that dates back to 1897 when the young Swedish actor Anders de Wahl was invited to read the poem at Sweden’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration at Skansen in Stockholm. De Wahl recited the poem each year until until his death in 1956, and the tradition continues to this day.

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