Ring Out Wild Bells is about the New Year and all the ways the world could change for the better. Tennyson takes the phrase “ring out the old, ring in the new” and twists it in order to “ring out” all the negatives he sees in the world and “ring in” more positive things.

As we enter a New Year and say goodbye to a very strange old year, this poem by Tennyson has never felt more appropriate.

Happy new year to you all – it has to be better than the old one, doesn’t it?

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 narrow lust for 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 kinder hand
Ring out the darkness of the land
Ring in the Christ that is to be

Alfred Lord Tennyson – 1809-1892