I was going to call this a Pretty Good Year, which is the title of a peice by Tori Amos (“Well, still … Pretty Good year” sounds like something you only say when things are anything but pretty good). But this has been. It’s a year of new horizons – both figurativly at work (thanks Eileen) and literally – my travels have taken me to both India and Africa for the first time. And it’s also been one of continuity at home (thanks Jackie).
Some years ago I heard Richard Harris reading this on New years eve. It’s correctly called section 106 of Tennyson’s In Memoriam (though people call it “Ring out Wild Bells”.) In Memoriam is a pretty huge work – this bit is roughly in the middle and it feels like the turning point of the whole peice. It starts with images of darkness and death and ends with optimism. I learnt Tennyson by heart at school, “Charge of the Light Brigade” because the whole class had to, and some big chunks of “The Lady of Shallot” when we had to choose our own – and he really needs to read aloud.
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 darkenss of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.