Iris Ann Lewis: The Bells of Lübeck

The High Window

lubeckSt Mary’s Church, Lübeck


Iris Ann Lewis: Poem

iris ann



I ring.


scatter the winds,
disperse the clouds,
break the thunder,
shatter lightening,
warn of fire,
drive out plague.

My voice is the slayer of demons

Vivos voco, mortuos plango

High up in the belfry
they swung free,
called the living,
mourned the dead.

A moonlit night,
the bells were still,
the town slept.

Out of darkness
bombers flew.
Fire blazed.

The bells rang out a warning
as they were falling,

They lie broken on the floor.

But though these iron tongues are mute,
still they hum a muffled tolling.

Plango mortuos plango mortuos plango mortuos plango…


What is the weight of peace?
This bell is freighted with it.
Three tons of bronze
to balance out war’s hate.
So heavy it can barely swing.

Its slow momentum gathers pace.

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