Ring Out, Wild Bells


Ring out

For New Year’s Eve and Day, here’s some poetry:

Section 106 from “In Memoriam” 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 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 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


On Aging

being old doesn't seem so old

Today’s prompt from The Daily Post:

What are your thoughts on aging? How will you stay young at heart as you get older?


My thoughts on aging come from my experience of my own aging body. I’m 67. As I reached my 50’s, various body parts began to go bad on me, many the result of my misuse or neglect.

  • At 50, I had a very large basal cell carcinoma removed from the tip of my nose, which then required reconstructive surgery. The doctor did great work and people don’t even notice now.
  • At 51, I had one bad gall bladder attack and had to have my gall bladder removed,laparoscopically.
  • At 54, I had four eye surgeries to try to repair a Macular Hole and then a detached retina. The retina was successfully reattached, but I lost the central vision in my left eye.
  • At 56, I had a heart attack and had angioplasty and one stent inserted.
  • At 59, I was diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer, and then underwent aggressive radiation and chemotherapy. The treatment killed the cancer, almost killing me in the process.


Is this too much information? My advice to those of you in your forties and fifties: get regular medical checkups! A number of my medical misfortunes came from not doing that.

So, my sixties have been more uneventful, physically. However, I know that I am losing my hearing ( all those rock concerts in my twenties!). I also have trouble with name retrieval.

But my older friends are dying or are already dead. My parents’ generation ( who were born around 1915) are gone. When I return to my home town, most of the people I knew ( my parents’ friends) are gone.

And yet, age is relative in many ways!

I am one of the younger ones in my religious community; but at the university where I still teach, I’m among the older professors. I am amazed that my students, who could be my grandchildren, don’t seem to mind. And the saying “they keep me young” is true in so many ways.

How do I stay young at heart?

By being interested in many things, and in new things. By looking forward to Spring in my garden.

By still teaching. By writing poetry.

I could say much more, and will, perhaps, another time.

Here’s a poem I wrote last year which seems appropriate:


Wow me not with verbotechnics

Summer gardens work just fine

Gladioli shock the clerics –

Delicate but so divine


Star magnolias fill the air with

Suntan lotion’s thick perfume

Then I’m thanking Heaven’s goldsmith

When the air is filled with June.


I feel old when nests remind me

I don’t have much future here

Most of my life lies behind me;

Still I call the summer dear.


Vincent Van Gogh:  Woman in a Garden

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/young-at-heart/”>Young At Heart</a>




Raised Catholic

Anne First Holy Communion 001

Raised Catholic

In February 2010 I attended the AWP’s ( Association of Writers and Writing Programs) National Conference in Washington DC. I love this conference; it’s the second one I’ve attended. Meeting my poet friends in person – people I’ve corresponded with, have been Facebook Friends with, those with whom I’ve interacted at the West Chester Poetry Conference over a number of years – they are all there!

The panel presentations are worthwhile, too! But this year I went to one called “The Rosary Effect : The Challenges of Writing from a Catholic Perspective” One fellow said that he was “still Catholic” but the other four writers were “fallen away.” However, they all said that they were “raised Catholic.”

It must be that the Catholic culture has permeated their unconscious even when they no longer espouse the practice of the religion. However, I fervently wished that I had been invited to be on that panel, so that I could speak from the vantage point of one who was “raised Catholic” but who, in adulthood, had made the choice to be a practicing Catholic – and not only that – to enter a religious community – and to remain both in the community and in the Church — in spite of everything.

In the last few years, really getting to know my Mennonite first cousins and Amish second cousins, I’ve come to realize how their history is filled with their persecution by the Catholics, and I am glad they don’t hold that against me. I’m glad to be united with them in the Gospel.

I have had conversations at poetry gatherings with other writers who ask me that question: how can you stay a member of this Church when women are treated as second class citizens? When the authority structure is medieval? When the clergy abuses have been made public and have scandalized so many?   Good question.

I don’t have a practiced apologetic answer. All I can say is “This is my Church. I love Jesus, and find his presence here, in the People of God.”   My Catholic culture informs my writing, for sure, in so many images and attitudes – that attitude that , as my friend Hopkins says,

“the world is charged with the grandeur of God.” I celebrate the sacramental inscape of things and persons.


In my opinion, self-righteousness is one of the most dangerous sins – the sin of good people – the sin of the Pharisees.


As Eliot says, I’m here to kneel where prayer has been valid… and humility is endless.



house mass

Dorothy Day quote

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/unfaithful/”>Un/Faithful</a&gt;



foggy dec 23

It’s foggy, rainy, and 55 degrees outside my window in Maryland USA right now.

Still, the days are growing longer again.  Here’s a poem by Susan Cooper:

And so the Shortest Day came and the year died

And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world

Came people singing, dancing,

To drive the dark away.

They lighted candles in the winter trees;

They hung their homes with evergreen;

They burned beseeching fires all night long

To keep the year alive.

And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake

They shouted, revelling.

Through all the frosty ages you can hear them

Echoing behind us – listen!

All the long echoes, sing the same delight,

This Shortest Day,

As promise wakens in the sleeping land:

They carol, feast, give thanks,

And dearly love their friends,

And hope for peace.

And now so do we, here, now,

This year and every year.

Welcome Yule!


<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/now/”>Now</a&gt;