On Stopping Big Ben



On Stopping Big Ben


Our bell is silent now;

Silence marks the passing of each hour.

The tower has no comment, makes no sound

Despite thirteen tons of primeval power.

Our bell is silent now;

The sun dimmed in mute protestation

The day it stopped, the day life turned

Into a sentence lacking punctuation.

Our bell is silent now;

It used to speak, same call to all,

No misunderstanding, no spin of truth,

Unlike those below in marbled hall.

Our bell is silent now;

Our voice diminished across the sphere,

Our orb and sceptre have played their part.
This isle now travels in hope or fear.

Our bell is silent now;

For four long years it will draw its breath,

And then exhale when hammer strikes,

To mark the tides of life and death.

Our bell is silent now;

Its tone and timbre oft in doubt,

Cracked and flawed like us all.

We’ll all miss his freedom shout.

Our bell is silent now;

Its silence diminishes us all.

As clods are washed away by sea,

Who does the bell toll for?

It tolls for thee.


Keith Murphy

Keith Murphy is a UK based bellringer and occasional poet. The occasion that prompted this poem was the silencing of the Big Ben clock bell for a lengthy, and expensive programme of maintenance. Keith lives in Warwickshire, volunteers as a hospital driver, edits the local community magazine, tries to play golf and writes poetry when it all gets too much.


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