In Memoriam A.H.H. by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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.


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