As we approach Remembrance Day I am reposting the sonnet about Remembrance Day silence, which I posted last year and which is now published in my book Sounding the Seasons. As you will see from the little introduction below, I wrote it in response to the silence on Radio 4, so it seems appropriate that this year it will be featured on Radio 4’s Remembrance Sunday Worship. the programme is broadcast at 8:10 on the 10th of November and will be live from Girton College Chapel. So here is the preface from last year’s post and the poem itself:
Last year on Remembrance Day I was at home listening to the radio when the time came for the Two Minutes Silence. suddenly the radio itself went quiet. I had not moved to turn the dial or adjust the volume. There was something extraordinarily powerful about that deep silence from a ‘live’ radio, a sense that, alone in my kitchen, I was sharing the silence with millions. I stood for the two minutes, and then, suddenly, swiftly, almost involuntarily wrote this sonnet. Since I posted it last year, here, and on audioboo, it has become the single most viewed and heard, of all my posts, and strangely, looking at the ‘stats I have found that almost half of my total ‘views’ have been from Germany, something that I find strangely moving. You can hear the sonnet, as I recorded it on November 11th last year, minutes after having composed it, by clicking the ‘play’ button if it appears or clicking on the title.
November pierces with its bleak remembrance
Of all the bitterness and waste of war.
Our silence tries but fails to make a semblance
Of that lost peace they thought worth fighting for.
Our silence seeths instead with wraiths and whispers,
And all the restless rumour of new wars,
The shells are singing as we sing our vespers,
No moment is unscarred, there is no pause,
In every instant bloodied innocence
Falls to the weary earth ,and whilst we stand
Quiescence ends again in acquiescence,
And Abel’s blood still cries in every land
One silence only might redeem that blood
Only the silence of a dying God.