Silence is all

Photo ©John Haslam


Silence is all that greets this blue morning,

No words can soften the chill in the air,

The dead have no voices, their tears are all dry.


Quiet these fields, the last of the roses,

Flowering in earth once harrowed with hell,

Silence is all that greets the blue morning.


A scattering of crosses, white wood, grey stone,

The whisper of voices from so long ago,

No words can soften the chill in the air.


Bells toll the seconds, last lives extinguished,

The blood in the fields now flowering red,

The dead have no voices, their tears are all dry.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

26 thoughts on “Silence is all”

  1. The use of the poppy picture is so important. Here in the US, the meaning of the day is lost. It’s about veterans, Memorial Day is about the dead. There should need to be 2 days to remember the sacrifices of the living and dead, the civilians and the soldiers, the families, and the wounded.
    May there be a Remembrance Day when there is no on-going war, when suicide rates among vets coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan aren’t multiple times the national average, when children don’t cry for love and food in bombed out buildings, when . . . .
    So, I always remain silent for a minute on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month praying that there will be an end to war without an end to us.

    1. Yes, today is Armistice Day. It isn’t about winning a war or being defeated since there was no winner. It’s a commemoration of ‘all those who lost their lives’, a phrase I much prefer to ‘sacrificed their lives’ because most of them didn’t die willingly, didn’t know why they were being asked to die, and their deaths left their families in misery. The First World War was a heartbreaking tragedy and I can’t think of it without the tears welling up for the terrible, ugly loss of life.

      1. I’m a Canadian from a time when on Remembrance Day the Canada stood still to remember, not just at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month when the Armistice was signed. No school, businesses, shops, government. Nothing. This was the practice well into the 1960s which included losses in Canada’s role in Nato “peace-keeping,” “police actions” like Korea, etc.
        Canada’s story of WW1 is heart-breaking too. And, it was one of the catalysts to our breaking further away from our colonial ties and demanding our own right to make foreign policy, and declare war on our own terms.
        WWI makes me cry, too.

      2. It’s a national holiday here (in France) where the losses were heavier than the UK, but there is not the same outpouring of sentiment here. I don’t know if it’s because France has been a battleground so often, or that there have been so many wars since. The Armistice seems to have been replaced by the terrorist bombing of November 13 last year.

      1. The Americans came in at the tail end of the war in Europe and their losses were very small compared with the European countries so it’s not surprising that the importance is less. Also, the reasons for the war must seem even more incomprehensible on the other side of the Atlantic.

    1. You know, what upsets me about Armistice Day is the colossal loss of life of WWI. They died in their millions, horribly, and calling them heroes doesn’t make them less dead. I hate war and the glorification of war dead as if it justifies their deaths.

      1. We must never forget. And I know it’s very hard to think that all those deaths were caused by the workings of alliances and the inertia of Europe’s military caste. Throwing men against machine guns, using human life as though it had no importance at all, and each one of those men was somebody’s son, husband or father. My heart breaks thinking about it, but I don’t think that military expediency ever takes emotions into consideration.

      2. It’s funny but the initial response to the horror of the Great War was that it was a senseless unnecessary criminal waste of life. There were films like The Paths to Glory, and the stage play Oh What a Lovely War that laid blame and it was on the leaders, civil and military. Now we seem not to want to hold anyone accountable. The dead have become heroes who willingly went to their deaths knowing they were doing so for some great cause. I’m still caught in the mindset of the 50s 60s and 70s when people protested and blamed the establishment. Maybe I’m just an unreformed Trot as I was accused by my local Young Socialist group when they booted me out.

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