I just finished Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s most famous poems, In Memoriam A.H.H. This poem was a poem written in memory of his dead friend, Arthur, who was also a poet. This poem takes us through the struggle with grief: generally, starting out in dark grief, ending in hopeful anguish. It is a long poem at 131 cantos, along with an introductory canto and a concluding canto. It took me a while, but it is a beautiful poem that explores, grief, love, and death deeply. I read this without notes, commentary, or a companion, which has its advantages and disadvantages. As a result, I don’t have some big message about what Tennyson is saying, I merely will quote my favorite canto:
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 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 of 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.