It has been quiet here at Novel Readings due to the combination of the holidays and the pressure to get my winter term courses ready for (gulp) Monday morning. As part of my class preparation, I have been working again on Tennyson’s In Memoriam, that beautiful, melancholy sequence described best by lines from the poem itself: “Short swallow-flights of song, that dip / their wings in tears, and skim away.” By way of a New Year’s offering, here’s section 106:
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.
I haven’t taught much poetry at all lately; my ‘Victorian Faith and Doubt’ seminar is going to make up for that, not only with In Memoriam but also poems by Matthew Arnold, Emily Bronte, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Thomas Hardy, and Christina Rossetti–including, of course, “Goblin Market.” Novel Readings should include some forays into poetry reading in 2009, then. I’m looking forward to it.