Carol Ann Duffy pens poem to mark centenary of Armistice Day

The Wound In Time was commissioned by Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle.

Poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy has penned a poem to mark the centenary of Armistice Day.

The Wound In Time was commissioned by director Danny Boyle as part of his Pages Of The Sea project, which seeks to remember those who died during the First World War.

The Slumdog Millionaire director is asking people to gather on beaches across the UK on November 11 to etch the faces of the millions whose lives were lost or changed forever by the conflict.

Events will take place at a number of beaches at low-tide.

Danny Boyle Armistice Day commission
The poem forms part of director Danny Boyle’s Pages Of The Sea project (Gareth Fuller/PA)

The name of the project was inspired by the final line of Duffy’s poem: “Your faces drowning in the pages of the sea.”

The Wound In Time will be read by participants as they gather to remember those that died and is the culmination of 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme to mark the centenary of Armistice Day.

Copies of the poem will be available at the beaches around the UK.

Pages Of The Sea is described as an “informal, nationwide gesture of remembrance for the men and women who left their home shores during the First World War”.

Danny Boyle Armistice Day commission
Danny Boyle speaks to press at Folkestone Beach as he announces plans for his Armistice Day commission for 14-18 NOW (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Boyle hailed poetry as an “extraordinary” art form that was able to report what it was like on the front line of war back to those at home.

He said: “I hope that Carol Ann Duffy’s poem will be something that you’ll read privately as individuals, or with friends, or publicly amongst people on the beach on November 11.

“Poetry in the First World War was such an extraordinary artform – it reported in the way that television does now on experiences that were unimaginable to the people at home.”

The Wound In Time by Carol Ann Duffy

It is the wound in Time. The century’s tides,
chanting their bitter psalms, cannot heal it.
Not the war to end all wars; death’s birthing place;
the earth nursing its ticking metal eggs, hatching
new carnage. But how could you know, brave
as belief as you boarded the boats, singing?
The end of God in the poisonous, shrapneled air.
Poetry gargling its own blood. We sense it was love
you gave your world for; the town squares silent,
awaiting their cenotaphs. What happened next?
War. And after that? War. And now? War. War.
History might as well be water, chastising this shore;
for we learn nothing from your endless sacrifice.
Your faces drowning in the pages of the sea.

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