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 a day 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 on the title or the ‘play’button if it appears.
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.
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6 responses to “Silence: a Sonnet for Remembrance Day”
Malcolm, That is a very powerful sonnet. Thank you. Jean
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I love your poetry Malcolm! And I am grateful for your influence in my life. I am so glad I had a chance to meet you and share a bit of my life story, along with a couple of my songs! I have resisted the temptation to correspond with you more often because I can see how busy you are and have an inkling of how precious your time must be. I truly admire both your talent and work ethic! After reading this poem again today on a cold, snowy, November Sunday in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, I felt compelled to say hello. Your brother always, Reid
If you just have the top two centimetres of the picture of the silent cross in view, it recalls the pattern of barbed wire…..
Oh that’s powerful