Remembrance Sunday Afternoon

november sunlight on the Wear

November sunlight on the Wear

There was a very moving Remembrance Sunday service in Durham Cathedral this morning. The Cathedral was packed, not only with civic dignitaries, and representatives of the various uniformed organisations but with the people of Durham itself and with young men in uniform some of whom stood through the silence with tears in their eyes, clearly remembering good friends and perhaps recent experience in war zones. An occasion that had seemed, in my childhood to be about distant and receding history seemed now completely relevant and contemporary. The words of the service and the sermon certainly remembered the horrors and waste of war as well as the extraordinary courage and service those horrors brought out in so many, glimpses of heaven in the midst of hell, as the preacher put it. Afterwards there was an amazing parade through the town with people standing on the streets and applauding the veterans as they passed. And in the early afternoon I sat on a bench by the river as the November sunlight shone off the Wear and, just below me fisherman quietly cast their lines, and that seemed to me as good an image as any of the peace for which we had been praying in the Cathedral. Sitting where I was I composed these lines:

(As always you can hear the poem by clicking on the title or the ‘play’ button)

Remembrance Sunday Afternoon


November sunlight shimmers on the Wear,

Wide waters slip unhurried  by each bank

And soothe Remembrance Sunday afternoon.

After the service, after the parades,

After the poppies, after the last post,

I sit and drink in quietness and peace,

The peace those Durham infantry forsook

To keep it sacred for the likes of me.

Some of them surely fished this very spot

Where Durham fishermen are sitting still

On folded camp stools. May those fallen men

Whom we remembered in the high cathedral

Drink deep now from the river of true life

Where all their wounds are healed, where living light

Flows from the source of every time and tide

And may they know that we remember them.



Filed under Current affairs, Poems

7 responses to “Remembrance Sunday Afternoon

  1. Many thanks for this, Malcolm – excellent poem & timely reflections.
    So helpful for me as I am currently housebound and have to enjoy my worship at second-hand.

  2. Jon Canessa

    Beautiful Malcolm. Thank you.

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. lanciaesmith

    Brings tears to my eyes even on first reading. “Glimpses of heaven in the midst of hell”. It is amazing how much more personal those losses in the “past” now seem, somehow now pressing and near. It makes my heart ache with the remembering and yet hope also stirs that we will live to see the Day when they, too, will see what their sacrifices bought for the likes of us and for the Kingdom of Heaven. Thank you, Malcolm for giving words to what so many of us feel but cannot marshal the words to describe.

  4. J

    I cannot thank you enough for sharing your poetry with us, Malcolm – in books, sermons, posts on your blog, all of it. This particular poem moved me greatly, brought tears to my eyes (but in a good way). Your words shimmer here and ring so beautifully true. So evocative and meaningful. I really love this poem. Thank you!

    • malcolmguite

      Thank you for saying so. The poem came exactly as it is whilst i was sitting on the bench by the river and it was hard for me to tell if it was any good as it was so close and immediate and as it were ‘unworked on’ which made me hesitate to post it. But then I thought ‘it says exactly what i feel’ ao i did

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.