Image by Caroline Forbes

Poem introduction

This is 'A Minute's Silence', written in an elegiac metre. I wrote it after being struck by how awesome a well-observed silence can actually be. I think there's a history of silence in poetry, and as far as I can tell it began with the Romantics - so I'm thinking of things like Shelley's 'Mont Blanc' or Coleridge's 'Frost at Midnight'. I was told recently that there's a sound artist who specialises in recording and releasing minutes of silence at public events, such as the cenotaph or the funeral of Diana, though these things of course are never totally silent and have their own texture of bird song and traffic noise. I was interested too in what is probably the only joyous and comlete minute of silence I've ever heard, and seen in fact, which is in Jean-Luc Godard's Bande Apart.

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