The Bell

Last month I posted a poem of mine, the Alchemist, that was published in Extreme Formal Poetry by Rhizome Press (

Here is another one from that anthology, which it seems appropriate to post on Remembrance Sunday. This poem also won a small competition on Poetry Nook.

The Bell

Aloof and silent in a gothic tower
the bell hangs like a noose beneath its beam.
A ratchet clicks, a finger marks the hour.
The hammer falls at last upon the dream
of peace. Eleven times it booms, then fades
into a dying hum. Before too long,
beyond the Army’s orgy of parades
a greater music will repeat that song.

It will be echoed mournfully by choirs
of clanging bronze, to summon back the souls
of those whose flesh has been consumed by fires
or left to putrefy in muddy holes.
An orchestra of thirty thousand guns  
will play it tunelessly – again, again …
How many of these folk will lose their sons
and learn to hate that ponderous refrain?

All this is yet to be. For now, the crowd
proclaims its faith in what it’s fighting for:
how lustily they wave their hats, how loud
they sing. By the inception of a war
these people seem, at first sight, undismayed. 
Look past the smiles, to what the eyes must show,
like those of cattle queuing for the blade –
despite this ecstasy of flags, they know.

At 11pm on 4 August 1914, an ultimatum to Germany to withdraw from Belgium expired, and Britain declared war. Crowds in central London reportedly greeted the news with cheers and patriotic songs.

pic: Raduranga 2015. Licensed under

3 thoughts on “The Bell

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s