Robert D. Sutherland
 

 

FOR SIR THOMAS MORE (1478–1535)

The checkering of sun and shade
remains to testify your going;
birds and clouds still glorify the day,
and walls of lichen-mottled stone
endure with dignity their weathering away;
the river ripples in their ceaseless flowing
beguile us to forget your broken blade,
and make us half forget that we’re alone.

When your chain became too heavy,
off it came: forged links of bondage
and a golden rose—rewards for royal complicity.
Your conscience led you to deny
all compromise to please the king;
unmoved, you stood on principle,
refusing to betray your self and God.

The silence of it, eloquent as dew on grass,
a morning sparkle born of night,
has dazzled us and left us dumb.
In that fell moment, your belief and will
struck together, flint and steel;
your silence thundered, shook the world—
we feel the quaking yet.

—Robert D. Sutherland, 1970—2020
Copyright © 2020

Written after seeing the film version of Robert Bolt’s play
A Man for All Seasons starring Paul Scofield as Thomas More (1966)

 

 

 

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