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.
The poem Ring Out, Wild Bells, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, forms part of the elegy In Memoriam, A.H.H, published in 1850. Tennyson wrote the elegy as a tribute to his close friend, who was also his sister’s fiancé, Arthur Henry Hallam, who had died suddenly at the age of twenty-two.
According to legend, the inspiration for the poem came when Tennyson, staying in the vicinity of Waltham Abbey, heard the Abbey Church bells clanging in the wind on a stormy night.
As a child in the large family of an impoverished country Church rector, Tennyson would have seen and perhaps experienced many of the features of society that he wrote about in Ring Out, Wild Bells.
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.
The sentiments expressed in Tennyson’s poem Ring Out, Wild Bells still resonate almost two hundred years after it was first published. The poem speaks of bringing relief from grief, about casting aside everything that was sad and bad about the year that has passed, and makes fervent wishes that the better aspects of human nature will emerge in the future. Isn’t that what most people hope for when the New Year brings a symbolic opportunity for a new beginning?
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.
At the end of a year, all we have to wish a new year full of happiness, prosperity, peace and love. The night of 31st December goes blur with a promise. Promise of the new, promise of the light. We make a prayer upon the shimmering stars of the midnight sky, let the darkness disappear, ringing out all the sadness of the leaving year. We welcome the first light of the new year, ringing in the daybreak in our life.
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.