Pause in Advent N°2: Bells Ringing


Another Sunday in Advent; another poem. I said I was going to share some of my favourite poems: well, this one is not a poem that I knew before yesterday. I was searching for another poem when I came across this one, and something leapt from the page and made me say “Yes!”

So today I bring you:



by Leonard Clark

I heard bells ringing

Suddenly all together, one wild, intricate figure,

A mixture of wonder and praise

Climbing the winter-winged air in December.

Norwich, Gloucester, Salisbury, combined with York

To shake Worcester and Paul’s into the old discovery

Made frost-fresh again.

I heard these rocketing and wound-remembering chimes

Running their blessed counterpoint

Round the mazes of my mind,

And felt their message brimming over with love,

Watering my cold heart,

Until, as over England hundreds of towers trembled

Beneath the force of Christmas rolling out,

I knew, as shepherds and magi knew,

That all sounds had been turned into one sound,

And a single golden bell,

Repeating, as knees bowed, the name EMMANUEL.

“watering my cold heart”…”the old discovery made frost-fresh again”…”the winter-winged air”…”rocketing and wound-remembering chimes”

What beautiful words, knitted together to form a poem that shakes me a little from my torpor, that starts the chiming of that one insistent bell to echo through my insularity: Emmanuel: God with Us. The time of his coming is near and we should shake off our world weariness and ready ourselves to welcome him here. Let us tremble “beneath the force of Christmas rolling out”… Let us recognise that once more the Lord of Life comes leaping and dancing into our world to bring joy and peace and vibrancy.

8 Responses to “Pause in Advent N°2: Bells Ringing”

  1. Angela Almond Says:

    Great post, thank you. I love Betjeman’s poem [the bells of waiting Advent ring…] which also reminds us it is all about Immanuel xx

  2. Pom Pom Says:

    Hi Mouse!
    Beautiful poem. I love the words.
    I pray that this Sunday finds you peaceful and joyful.

  3. magsmcc Says:

    I love the wound-remembering phrase. Goodness, why does that grab me? T S Eliot’s definition of poetry was that it needed a personal experience that would be universally experienced. Or something to that effect! Wound-remembering. Gosh. Such a visceral thing Christmas, born to die.

  4. Kathy Says:

    This is a lovely poem. perfect for the Pause in Advent.
    I’ve been reading a poem each day in Advent. A new experience for me. I’m quite getting in to it.
    Thanks for your comments over at my place. It’s nice to hear from someone who knows my area. x

  5. Chel C Says:

    Such a beautiful post. Last Monday we had the Advent service at the Cathedral and from my office I heard the Cathedral bells ringing for an hour, it was beautiful and I sat there with the windows open letting the cold air in but listening to the warmest sounds around. xx

  6. Kezzie Says:

    Amen!! Such an amazing poem! God is with us!x

  7. Floss Says:

    Yes! That really is a fantastic, and ‘awakening’ poem – thanks!

  8. mary kathryn Says:

    Wonderful poem! Thank you so much for sharing it! Doesn’t it give you a tingle and quiver as you read it? “over England hundreds of towers trembled
    Beneath the force of Christmas rolling out,” — love that sound!