My poem above is suitable for singing and may, therefore, be
considered a song as well.
It was inspired by Tennyson's New Year poem Ring Out,
Wild Bells, which consists of 32 lines (iambic tetrameters)
subdivided into eight verses of four lines (quatrains).
The form of both poems is so rigid as to formally allow only words
with an alternating stress pattern (with the syllables
This should explain, for example, the occurrence of false
distinctions in my poem.
Technically speaking, distinctions are not true or false; they are
relevant or irrelevant.
Yet, the word irrelevant
(unstressed-stressed-unstressed-unstressed), if wanted at all, would
not fit in.
So, false followed by distinctions is not to be taken
literally here; instead, it is to be interpreted as claimed or
supposed to be relevant, but in truth irrelevant, which has
the same negative connotation as false.
(The use of
and melody is discussed below.)
Ring Out, Wild Bells was published in the year 1850 of the
Its first two and last stanzas are:
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 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.
The year 1850 is also the year when Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892) was
appointed Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
(then) Ireland by Alexandrina Victoria Hanover, head of state of
that country and at the same time head of the Anglican Church.
No doubt, the last line in particular will have immensely pleased
this Queen Victoria!
In Tennyson's poem 22 of the 32 lines start with Ring, 1 with
But ring, in But ring the fuller minstrel in.
(The remaining 9 lines do not contain any ring.)
Two lines contain ring twice: Ring out the old, ring in the
new and Ring out the false, ring in the true in the second
The latter words were on the hour bell of Manchester Town Hall, which
was completed in 1850.
Altogether, 14 lines of the poem start with Ring out, 1 with
Ring only, and 7 lines with Ring in.
For Tennyson's complete poem and more information see, for example,
en.wikipedia.org/[ ]wiki/[ ]Ring_Out,_Wild_Bells.
As far as the poetic structure is concerned my poem differs only
from Tennyson's in that it has four instead of eight quatrains of
four iambic tetrameters each.
In my case i am being a little sloppy in my use of the word
religionism which is five instead of four syllables long, with
the pattern unstressed-stressed-unstressed-stressed-unstressed.
The end -nism receives secondary
stress and may be pronounced either |NIzam| (in which |a| is a schwa,
the unstressed counterpart of
|A|) or |NIZ-m|.
When pronouncing it in the latter way the syllabic (or 'vocalic')
m need hardly be counted as a full-length syllable.
(Tennyson does something similar when presenting the three-syllable
word kindlier as if it were the two-syllable word
With four iambs in each line (almost) exclusively, the form of the
two poems is already rigid enough, but this form becomes even more
rigid with a consistent end rime scheme, which is A-B-B-A for each
The vowels and following consonants, if any, used for the rime are
different in each quatrain.
Even when i cheat a little by treating the vowels in land and
end as the same —they are different front vowels, but not
too far apart— this is no different from Tennyson's treating
more and poor and disease and peace as
Strictly speaking, the word melody and the stressed be
in my last stanza do not rime either, because melody only has
(primary) stress on the first syllable, and no (secondary) stress on
Moreover, natives may not pronounce the final vowel of melody
|EE| of be (and
sheep), but rather as the
|I| of ship.
Nonetheless, my poetic lisense also has a favorable effect: with the
absence of stress on -dy, the relative stress on be
will be stronger, and rightly so.
(Far be it from me, however, to use a couple like blood and
good for riming purposes, as Alfred does in the sixth quatrain
— such spurious
is indeed a most 'mournful rhyme'.)
Alliteration occurs in both
Apart from the repetition of exactly the same words in Tennyson,
there are the couples flying -
frosty, pride - place and
slander - spite.
In my own poem there are the couples
religionism - light in the
second, times - changing in
the third and Norm
- need in the last line.
(Should still really be kept unstressed, it does not
alliterate with steals, in spite of the consonance.
In practice, the content and the alliteration are worth sacrificing
If stressed syllables have a corresponding position in different
lines of the same stanza, they may also be considered alliterating.
This applies to land and light in the first stanza, to
injustice and a diff'rent and find and
false in the second stanza, and to a better and
embitt'ring in the fourth.
The two clauses in Tennyson's lines Ring out the old, ring in the
new and in Ring out the false, ring in the true, which is
not original, have been split up by me and are found back in the
second and third stanzas in similar or different grammatical
The first of these lines refers, of course, to the well-known English
custom of ringing the old year out and the new year in on the
Christian-Gregorian New Year's Eve held a divinely mysterious ten
days after the