Works by Swedish painter Carl Larsson are informed by a very visible love of family – in the soft shades and warm light of often idyllic scenes of home, the artist provides us respite, he offers us in watercolour the relationship between beauty and all that is morally good. The domestic scenes, especially those of Christmas, remain fresh and appealing for they represent what most of us strive for – a few peaceful moments in the company of loved ones where the cares of the world have fallen away.
For many December is bittersweet, a time for reflection upon the past but also for forging traditions – those small customs for the benefit of the young, they who do not yet realize the importance of their heritage and who will, hopefully, keep it alive once we are gone. One wonders whether Larsson was familiar with Ring Out, Wild Bells by Alfred Lord Tennyson. The poem has been recited at the annual New Year’s Eve Celebration at Skansen in Stockholm every year since 1897. Its themes are clear and precise, as relevant today as they were when it was first published in 1850.
- 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 thy 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.
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