I realize it is slightly ridiculous and quite irreverent to place poems written by Alfred, Lord Tennyson and yours truly in the same title, but it is my year for living more poetically. So on the first Wednesday of each month this year, I plan to share a classic poem along with a poem I’ve written. The first I hope fills you with the beauty and wisdom of classic poetry. The second I humbly hope expresses my own dreamy thoughts and maybe even encourages you to write a poem yourself.
The following poem was written in 1850 by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, one of the most well-loved Victorian poets. I always looked forward to teaching this poem to my literature students the day we returned after winter break. Tennyson wrote it in memory of his sister’s fiancé who died at the age of 22. It is surprising how relevant this poem remains today. If you lost someone close to you in the past year, as I did, this poem helps express the grief and desire to step into the new year with positivity and hope. Consider reading it aloud to feel its rhythm and meaning more deeply.
In Memoriam (Ring Out, Wild Bells) by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
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 our 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.Cl
And now for a poem I wrote based on an experience I recently had early one bright and cold morning…
Birds of a Feather by Alicia Woodward
Through a frosty bedroom window
Shone the rising sun
Waking up my hands and toes
My dreaming nearly done
Sleepily I caught a glance
Of a yellow bird
Sitting on an icy branch
She spoke without a word
I looked into her shining eyes
Black with flecks of gold
Sending songs up to the sky
And secrets never told
In the morning perched together
Little bird and I
Pretty bird with yellow feathers
Teach me how to fly §