O, Cartmel bells ring soft to-night,
And Cartmel bells ring clear,
But I lie far away to-night,
Listening with my dear;
Listening in a frosty land
Where all the bells are still
And the small-windowed bell-towers stand
Dark under heath and hill.
I thought that, with each dying year,
As long as life should last
The bells of Cartmel I should hear
Ring out an aged past:
The plunging, mingling sounds increase
Darkness's depth and height,
The hollow valley gains more peace
And ancientness to-night:
The loveliness, the fruitfulness,
The power of life lived there
Return, revive, more closely press
Upon that midnight air.
But many deaths have place in men
Before they come to die;
Joys must be used and spent, and then
Abandoned and passed by.
Earth is not ours; no cherished space
Can hold us from life's flow,
That bears us thither and thence by ways
We knew not we should go.
O, Cartmel bells ring loud, ring clear,
Through midnight deep and hoar,
A year new-born, and I shall hear
The Cartmel bells no more.