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 couple of days early so that any one who wishes to, can use it in services or events on this Remembrance Sunday.

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 some 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 imagination

8 responses to “Silence: a Sonnet for Remembrance Day

  1. Maggie Greaves

    A better poem maybe than the one you might have read? X

    Sent from my iPad


  2. JO

    Thank you for posting this poem each year in November! It’s a treasured reading that deepens the experience of 2 minutes silence!

  3. Reblogged this on Pastor Michael Moore's Blog and commented:
    A powerful reflection, Malcolm!

  4. Powerful and Beautiful! I have written an article on my website titled Celebrating Remembrance Day – Feel free to check it out!

  5. The Thinking WASP

    A beautiful sonnet. It really brings home the futility of it all. Thank you for sharing.

    Your readers may also like Ghosts of the Poppies, published on November 10, 2019, as well as For The Fallen, on November 11, 2019, both at

    Again, thank you. I’m now following your blog.

  6. I was looking to publish something of my own for Remembrance Day, but I found this sonnet by poet-priest Malcolm Guite. Lest we forget.

  7. Reblogged this on A Pilgrim in Narnia and commented:
    I was looking to publish something of my own for Remembrance Day, but I found this sonnet by poet-priest Malcolm Guite. Lest we forget.

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