Thursday, 24 August 2017

The Silence Of Big Ben

My husband and I live in Westminster, London so we often enjoy walking down by the river Thames. In the summer months we like to take in the continually changing views of the river while sitting near the Houses of Parliament.

Part of this iconic landmark is the Clock Tower, officially named the Elizabeth Tower, home to the Great Bell of the clock which is affectionately known as "Big Ben." This nickname is usually extended to refer to both the clock and the clock tower. Big Ben's quarterly chimes have become famous over the years and he has attracted tourists from across the globe to come and hear his song!

On the 21st of August 2017, the well known tune of Big Ben rang out for one last time at midday before being silenced for a four year restoration period. Urgent repair work was required and so poor Ben had to be muted in order to undergo the maintenance procedures safely. Considering Ben has been faithfully keeping time since the 31st of May 1859, this four year silencing period really does seem like a drastic loss for the heart of London.

A few days after the start of this event my husband and I found ourselves in our usual spot, enjoying the sunshine. For the first time however our views weren't accompanied by the familiar sound track that we had subconsciously grown accustomed to. Big Ben was suddenly completely quiet! As I sat there waiting on the usual notes to ring out every fifteen minutes only to be met with continued silence, I soon discovered there was a quite a melancholy feel to the river now. It definitely felt like something was missing.

Walking back through the warm and dusky streets of London that evening, I soon found myself formulating my thoughts on the matter and began writing a light-hearted poem called "The Silence Of Big Ben." Although this is different in nature to the other poems on my website, I still wanted to share it as London is close to my heart too!

What has happened dearest Ben? Where's your famous voice?
This silence you've been sentenced to is not the people's choice.
Quarterly you sang your song each hour of the day
But when I come to see you now there's naught you have to say.

Theresa made her protest heard, "Four years? It cannot be!"
How long you'll sleep and slumber for we'll have to wait and see.
Your song was like a heartbeat that pulsed through London's streets.
Oh how I miss your melody, your chiming, tuneful beats.

You stand so proud for pictures, over ninety metres tall!
Known by all the world, you're the greatest clock of all.
Though tourists line the bridge and fill the air with eager yells,
No longer are they greeted by your strong and mighty bells.

It's sad to see you reticent, your muteness is absurd.
It's eight o'clock Big Ben and yet you tell me not a word!
For years I've lived beside you and you'd fill my heart with glee,
I'd hear you late at night when you would sing to only me.

I reminisce of when your tones rang clear across the Thames
And know that in the future you will try to make amends.
For now I shall endure as every Londoner must do
But please take note dear Ben, you've left us feeling rather blue.

Although we'll all be "British" and declare we're "doing fine,"
In truth we'll live in disarray, quite clueless of the time!
The rhythm you set out for us would keep us all in place
But now we simply gaze upon your solemn, silent face.

Though time will tick by steadily with every passing bus,
We'll celebrate as one when they return your soul to us.
Should we still be Londoners when comes the joyous day
Your slumber meets it's end, we'll heed what else you have to say.

We'll gather at your feet to hear that first, resounding bong
And watch the pigeons scatter at your long forgotten song!
To see the reappearance of our city's grandest friend,
Our hearts will be restored as you sing London's song again!

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
"To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born,

And a time to die;

A time to plant,

And a time to pluck what is planted;

A time to kill,

And a time to heal;

A time to break down,

And a time to build up;

A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;

A time to mourn,

And a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones,

And a time to gather stones;

A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to gain,
And a time to lose;

A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;

A time to tear,
And a time to sew;

A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;

A time to love,

And a time to hate;

A time of war,
And a time of peace."