Poetry Corner: Our City Burned That Night

On this day in 1976 Sir Basil Spence, Scottish architect, died. Basil Spence is arguably the most internationally renowned 20th-century British architect, known principally for his breathtaking work rebuilding Coventry Cathedral. Born in India, he was the son of an Orcadian and was sent home to have his schooling at George Watson’s College in Edinburgh. Scot Clans

Coventry Cathedral-by-Kevin-Croucher (1)

Our City Burned That Night, by Martin Brown

That was the night our city burned bright,
‘Til fierce flames turned to choke smoking grey,
Sourly mocking the dawn’s dim light

Unshrouding the horror of a proud city’s plight.
Smouldering ruins where ended lives lay
After our City had burned, that night.

Over they’d flown, in grim, ordered flight:
Wars, we thought, were fought far away.
But the devil came here, with his demons, that night,

And God, and his angels, hid from their sight.
A child’s doll, severed, left where it lay,
After our City had burned, that night.

Darkness, lit by the cruellest of light;
Numb, we emerged to a world gone away.
Some wept, and left, but most vowed to stay,
After our City had burned that night.

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  1. Keeping the shell of the old cathedral, using wood from it to make new crosses, and building the new cathedral next to, and as part of the ruins, was an inspired idea.

    It puts me in mind of what has been done in Nagasaki – remembering what happened, but building anew.

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