‘Let There Be Peace’: All to know about Lemn Sissay’s poem from Manchester Together – With One Voice

May 22, 2018 marked the one year anniversary of the tragic attack at Manchester Arena. Crowds of people gathered to pay their respects to those who died or were injured in the atrocity.

Following a televised service at Manchester Cathedral, thousands congregated for the Manchester Together – With One Voice at Albert Square yesterday evening. The gathering saw the city show its resilience while singing such songs as Take That’s Never Forget and Oasis’ Don’t Look Back In Anger in unison.

The most poignant moment was arguably when poet Lemn Sissay took to the stage to deliver a powerful performance for the crowds. But what was the poem he read? Here’s everything you need to know.

What is it called?

REACTION: Thousands hung on the poet’s every word

The poem read out with such passion is called ‘Let There Be Peace’. The title, of course, is extremely appropriate when you consider the dignified way in which Manchester reacted – and continues to react – to last year’s terror attack.

When was it published?

‘Let There Be Peace’ was first written back in 2012. Its big debut came when it was painted against one of the buildings at the University of Manchester. The idea behind this was to create an atmosphere for quiet and peaceful study.

At the time, Sissay said: “Let There Be Peace stands with my landmark poems as testament to the creativity and pride of a world-class city with a world-class university: Manchester.”

Who is Lemn Sissay?

SINGALONG: The huge event was held at Albert Square

Much like when Tony Walsh performed at the vigil last year, Sissay might be a new name for some people. However, he’s actually been a popular wordsmith for several years now.

Sissay has won several awards for his work, including the 2016 Doubleday Award and the 2016 NESTA New Radical Award. Lemn has also featured on TED Talks and made the New Year’s Honours list in 2010.

What was the reaction to the rendition?

TRIBUTE: The event paid respect to those who died or were injured in the attack at Manchester Arena

The crowds were silent as they listened to Sissay read the beautiful poem during Manchester Together – With One Voice. 

Those in attendance later burst into applause and cheering, as many also flocked to social media to share how much the words had touched them.

See the full poem below

Let there be peace

So frowns fly away like albatross

And skeletons foxtrot from cupboards,

So war correspondents become travel show presenters

And magpies bring back lost property,

Children, engagement rings, broken things.

Let there be peace

So storms can go out to sea to be

Angry and return to me calm,

So the broken can rise up and dance in the hospitals.

Let the aged Ethiopian man in the grey block of flats

Peer through his window and see Addis before him,

So his thrilled outstretched arms become frames

For his dreams.

Let there be peace

Let tears fall and evaporate to form clouds, cleanse themselves

And fall into reservoirs of drinking water.

Let harsh memories burst into fireworks that melt

In the dark pupils of a child’s eyes

And disappear like shoals of darting silver fish,

And let the waves reach the shore with a

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

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