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;
you laid aside a golden rose
(reward for royal complicity),
and chose to wear a hairshirt ’gainst your skin
to mind you of your flesh and frailty.
Conceding nothing to the king’s command,
you took your stand, to God and conscience true.

Ah, Thomas, the silence of it,
as 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 (1967—2021)

Copyright © Robert D. Sutherland 2021

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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