Coventry Cathedral
for choir SSATBB and soprano solo (1994)
duration: 8’
text by Ross Baglin
GRT • 019

audio sample






score available from
Australian Music Centre

program note
Coventry was bombed extensively by Germany in 1940 and its cathedral was reduced to a blackened shell. When it was rebuilt in the 50’s, it was decided to leave the open-air ruins of the old cathedral largely untouched alongside the new building.

text
They laid them in for centuries,
The faithful dead
Where stone went “half way to the sky”
Said Ruskin ; all
Expecting masonry to outlive breath.

They could not know
The individual
Becomes illegible
In the perfect anonymity
Of “mass destruction”.

So we might unlearn
New methods of forgetfulness
Among these amputated stones,
The light like blindness
Searing the entablatures,
It has been cleaned and left ;
The elbow of an arch
Propped on nothing, the aftermath
Of bursting glass and melting lead
And the arrested motion of a stair
Within a broken column
Petrified.

The dead are dead to a name ;
From Alpha to Omega,
The moss observes their many silences.

But if they are to have a monument
I choose
The fractured stair
Clasping nothing
Seeking

Nothing

In the monumental sky.