My ritual New Year’s Eve is a party at a friend’s house that culminates in taking to the streets with her collection of Tibetan Bells. We ring them for all we’re worth to push the old year over the edge into the new and then go back inside for a champagne toast. I came up with something—never at a loss for words—but missed my chance to do it right. Because this morning I stumbled into a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson that would have been perfect for the occasion! I’m suffering from poetic regret.
But it’s not too late. I offer his work here and for those still searching for a worthy resolution beyond losing ten pounds, pick any one of the eight stanzas. That should keep you busy! Ring out the old failures, the false, the grief, the strife, the spite, the want, the care, the sin, the faithless coldness, civic slander, lust for gold and such. Then keep ringing to bring in the true, the nobler modes, the sweeter manners, the larger heart, the kindlier hand. First remove the cankers in your own heart and feed your better nature and then look at the forces in the world that undermine hope and care and do what you can do limit their power—especially in this election year!
I know, it’s all rather abstract and lofty. Much easier to go for ten pounds less and remembering to feed the dog or get a new car. But the world needs dreamers as much as doers and good dreams rung out across the landscape on wild bells. Read it out loud and if you have some Tibetan bells handy, punctuate it freely. Enjoy!
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.