Silence: a Sonnet for Remembrance Day

As we approach Remembrance Sunday I am reposting this sonnet about the two minutes silence, which was first published in my book Sounding the Seasons.  I’m posting it a few days early so that any one who wishes to can use it in services or events either on remembrance Sunday or on Remembrance day itself. As you will see from the little introduction below, I wrote it in response to the silence on Radio 4, and two years ago it was featured on Radio 4’s Remembrance Sunday Worship.

So here is how it came to be written. On Remembrance Day I was at home listening to the radio and 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. You can hear the sonnet, as I recorded it on November 11th three years ago, minutes after having composed it, by clicking the ‘play’ button if it appears or clicking on the title.

The striking image above is ‘Poppy Day’ by Daliscar and the one below is ‘Silent Cross’ by Margot Krebs Neale


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 seethes instead with wraiths and whispers,
And all the restless rumour of new wars,
The shells are falling all around 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.

Silent Cross by Margot Krebs Neale


Filed under Current affairs, literature, Poems, politics

10 responses to “Silence: a Sonnet for Remembrance Day

  1. Reblogged this on Michael Moore's Blog and commented:
    Powerful @malcolmguite

  2. Jackie

    Malcolm, I think I remember a year or two ago … that this sonnet of yours was one of the ones most listened to (from your collection posted here), most read, with readers from around the world. This truly resonates, no matter what country you live in. Thank you very much for all your thoughtful poetry and writing. Like all really good poets, you shine a light for us, get us to ponder things for ourselves.

  3. A profoundly beautiful sonnet that draws us into deeper, silent reflection. A gift of grace all can appreciate. Timely and timeless. Thank you, Malcolm.

  4. I listened today with eyes closed. Powerful and poignant.

  5. Pingback: Some meditations on remembering… | "As I mused, the fire burned"

  6. This is a very moving sonnet. Am glad to come across it as it has that reflection and depth. Thanks for your posts on the war poets too. I used to teach that period.

  7. Pingback: Remembrance | Margot Krebs Neale

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.