For Remembrance

I wrote a poem for Remembrance Day based on Ecclesiastes 3 verses 1-8. You may know the original verses better as a famous Pete Seeger song. 

First, here are the verses as they appear in the Old Testament. Following them is my own poem 'There is a Clock-Strike'

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (New International Version of the Bible)

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.


There is a clock-strike - by Fran Hill 


There is a clock-strike for all imaginings

And the peal of a bell for each earthly circumstance  

A time for the red-faced, hungry newborn

But, too, for the ashen quietness of the dying.


A time to dig deep and seed and water

And a time to nestle a trowel underneath and tug

A time to take away the whisper of a life

Yet also to offer balm for the mending of wounds


A time to raze to the ground and transform to dust

And a time to craft walls which stretch for beauty

A time to gather many tears in cupped hands

But then throw the head back to smile at the sun


A time to bend over a gravestone and remember

And to dive and leap into a chorus of joy

A time to throw stones to the moody winds

But also time to pick them from earth for redemption


A time to fold a loved one into your gracious touch

And to hold them distant like mist on the horizon

A time to call a name out and peer for sightings

But then to lie down content with the absence


A time to hug possessions to your jealous heart

And to hurl them to the air like nothing that matters

A time to rend a garment and make its edges rough

Yet also a time for tiny stitches in threads of silver


A time to rein back words as though wild horses

And to let them fall from your lips as free as birds

A time to release your passions and bid them run

But, too, a time for the sober face and withheld love


A time for conquests with the vengeful sword

And for the joining of hands that means a world at rest.






  1. This made my face wet. Beautiful. x

  2. Your version is beautiful, Fran. You have added many lines that I will remember. Being a sewing person, I think the line about tiny silver stitches will stay uppermost in my mine today. Thank you for this remembrance poem.

    1. That's a real compliment. I have no idea about sewing so if it resonated, that's a good thing.

    2. *mind, not mine, but I'm sure you figured it out :)
      Yes, it really did resonate; I thought you must be a sewist in order to create that line!

    3. Goodness, you'd be shocked by the state of some of my button-sewing-on and hemming. I have no idea what I'm doing.

  3. A profound, meditative, wise and discerning poem, Fran. I love it.

    1. I'm pleased you thought that, SC. Thanks so much for reading.

  4. There are so many wonderful lines in your piece, Fran. I love the honest way you describe a new-born and this is such a touching way to describe death 'A time to take away the whisper of a life'. Beautiful.

    1. Thank you, Martin, for reading and commenting. Much appreciated.

  5. Each line is a treasure. This is more than a poem, more than a prayer. It's remarkable.

    1. That's lovely of you. I can't take all the credit, of course, as I had a good model on which to build its frame!

  6. "To lie down content with the absence", now that is hard, being a widow I know this. Beautifully worded and thoughtful poem of yours.

    1. That must be very hard, Terra. I'm glad the poem touched you. x

  7. Truly lovely. Already I'm wondering if I should ask to have it at my funeral. Not that it's imminent, I hope...

    1. I hope it's not imminent, too! What a dreadful thought. But it's a huge compliment that you'd think of using it.


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