Silence of the Bells - Archie Swanson (1973G)

On the 1st June 2018 the following article was published in the OD Newsletter:
 
A LOOK BACK IN TIME
On This Day - 30th May 1937
 
On Wednesday, 81 years ago, the three bells on the East side of the Chapel were dedicated by Archbishop Phelps. They are named Fides, Spes and Caritas (Faith, Hope and Charity) and have the donor's initials on each bell (FIDES Frank Reid; SPES - Mrs Brian Peake; CARITAS - Mary Ella Birt, Alice Sophy birt & Roderick Harold Birt). Today the three bells still act as a call to start the day at Bishops (either Chapel service or House assembly) and they are the only form of bells that ring during the day at the College. In the June edition of the 1937 Diocesan College Magazine it is quoted by the Archbishop: "...The bells ought always to be thought of as the voice of God calling..." 
To read the full newsletter click HERE

In response to this article, Archie Swanson sent in his publication relating to the Chapel Bells entitled: Silence of the Bells:


silence of the bells
 
the call to chapel at the start of each college day
ding dang dong   ding dang dong   ding dang dong
ringing clanging calling falling feet
voices echoing in colonnades
on the way to morning chapel
then abruptly they stop
the chaplain rises
“let us pray”
 
chapel bells
heartbeat of the school
common denominator
week in and week out
year in and year out
at the start of each year
at the start of each term
and on the last day of the year - psalm 150 sung with gusto
“let everything that hath breath praise the lord!”
 
on our very last day of school we finally silenced the bells
clappers muffled by foam rubber
silence
no call to worship
boys milling around as school slipped into cardiac arrest
 
then on to the wide world
to life without the bells
to military call up and university
 
on this crisp autumn Sunday morning
as I sip a strong Italian coffee at the Chelsea farmers’ market
the bells of St. Luke’s ring out suddenly
the bells that would not be silenced
calling out over decades
calling me back to the stone pine avenue
to the playing fields of my youth
bowling loose leg breaks into a blustery southeaster
 
About Archie
Archie Swanson is a 62-year-old surfer living in the Garden Route whose fruit export business and love for surfing have taken him to many parts of the world. His poems have been published since 1973 when his poem  “mapolisa – the police” was included in English Alive – an annual anthology of South African High School creative writing. His poems appear in several anthologies, poetry blogs and quarterly poetry publications like Stanzas and New Contrast and have been published in Spanish and in Japanese. In 2017 his poems were short listed for the Sol Plaatje Award and for the UK Bridport prize. His poetry collection the stretching of my sky was published earlier this year.