Silence: Remembering the Somme

As we all remember and reflect on the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme I am reposting this sonnet about the two minutes silence, which is now published in my book Sounding the Seasons.

On Remembrance Day in 2011 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.

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.


Filed under Current affairs, literature, Poems, politics

4 responses to “Silence: Remembering the Somme

  1. Thank you.
    My father used to quote,

    Went the day well?
    We died and never knew.
    But, well or ill,
    Freedom, we died for you.”

  2. Gilly Holmes

    Thank you. Those last 2 lines sum up in a few words all we need to know to have peace. What a God we follow.

  3. Marsha Garrison

    I was fortunate to stumble upon your work only a few months ago. What a good gift you give to the world. I came back to this sonnet today to listen again to the lines
    “In every instant bloodied innocence
    Falls to the weary earth….”
    It has been a terrible week in the U.S. I sense a weariness among people of faith, among clergy and preachers. Bloodied innocence keeps falling. I suspect that many laypersons like me, and perhaps those charged with the duty of authentically proclaiming God to their people, are reaching for words of truth. Your sonnets give us much to hold onto. Thank you.

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