A friend of my mother’s sent this poem (below) to her a few days before the New Year. My Mother and her friend have a lot in common – literature being one of them. My Mother, a former English teacher, has a gift for calling forth poems at any moment that are echoing about in her head and that match the situation. I am jealous of her ability to do so. I always felt I “lucked out” when I did not get the English teacher who would make students memorize poems and large passages from Shakespeare. In my adulthood, I wish I had had those teachers!
But in any case, I share the poem with you here as it is fitting of the passage from 2020 to 2021 in particular. It reminds me a bit of a certain Walt Whitman poem. Maria Mitchell was a lover and writer of poetry herself, so I think this is something she would appreciate.
In Memoriam, [Ring out, wild bells]
Alfred, Lord Tennyson – 1809-1892
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.