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 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.

Silent Cross by Margot Krebs Neale

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Filed under imagination

8 responses to “Silence: a Sonnet for Remembrance Day

  1. Anna Herscher

    May we live our lives in such a way as to redeem the blood that stains the fields of Ukraine.

  2. Pingback: The Silence of a Dying God – Barnstorming

  3. What an extraordinary post! Thank you. Though I now live in the US, where today is Veterans Day, I grew up in Canada and fondly remember wearing a poppy every year at this time. But truly, your sonnet is deeply moving, and what a soul-stirring and awakening theological conclusion.

  4. Richard McConnell

    Very well said. Thank you.

  5. Sister Sarah

    Dear Father Guite,

    I recently was writing a card to a friend who is celebrating 60 years of vowed life as a woman religious. I searched for a sonnet for this occasion and couldn’t find anything. Have you written one for this important gift of commitment?

    I read your sonnets with gratitude and prayer. I have Sounding the Seasons and share selections with others on their feast days.

    Sister Sarah

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