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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7 responses to “Silence: a Sonnet for Remembrance Day”
This is very moving. Thank you Malcolm. Jean Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
Thanks so much Malcolm – would you mind if I forward this onto others in my community please? This is most profound. Thanks. Delme Linscott
That’s fine. Go ahead
That was wonderful. We don’t bother with an real remembrances in this country (U.S.), I’m afraid. We just pretend to remember – I’m surprised they haven’t tried to make it another Monday holiday. But I’m glad to see this!
Excellent sonnet. Thanks.
Reminds me of Yeats’ “the Second Coming,” but is your reference to ‘a dying God Jesus on the Cross? I will email you this comment sice my comments are still not showing up.
My reference is to Christ on the cross!