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.
My thoughts on poetry match those of M in the latest James Bond movie, Skyfall: despite my best efforts to remain disinterested, Tennyson works magic with words that I can’t deny.
The poem above is read every year at the New Years Eve festival at Skansen, in Stockholm, to commemorate the end of one year and the beginning of another. The reading is televised and broadcast to people around the country – many of whom are at home, with friends, to avoid the cold. Fireworks accompany the poem after midnight.
I’ve set my sights on attending this event in person at some point in my life. It’s emblematic of the measured optimism that I notice in the Swedish way, balanced against acknowledging the strife of the not-so-distant past. And it’s the perfect way to ring in the New Year.
Here’s to a peaceful and prosperous 2014.