Let There Be Peace

Let There Be Peace
By Lemn Sissay

Let there be peace
So frowns fly away like albatross
And skeletons foxtrot from cupboards,
So war correspondants 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 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 silver darting fish,
And let the waves reach the shore with a
Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

32 thoughts on “Let There Be Peace

  1. When I first saw your name I was surprised because I have never heard of a name as such but then I witnessed your presence and I understood. Your name sounds like “lemon” to me.  you remind of a lemon an actual one:) no matter how much we sweeten or sour a lemon it never leaves the taste, you can always taste the flavor, and no matter the things you have witnessed in your life, you stayed who you Are supposed to be, a brilliant poet touching lives all over the world(perhaps you should get a shirt designed with a lemon and  (?) in the middle. Its bilingual!:) Your way of looking at things, and your poems has inspired me tremendously.  I am thankful to be introduced to you. And I am thankful you are an Ethiopian. Another thing is I have instead decided to say you are “birq” to Ethiopia, your English to Amharic translation book will give you the definition. Stay blessed amazing! See you in September! 

    I am an Ethiopian teaching literature in, Debre Markos University, a young university in Ethiopia.
    It was just yesterday that I came to know about you through the Amharic weekly,ADDIS ADMAS. I have then tried to get more about you from web resources. I now wish to get your works so that I read and enjoy them for myself and then share them with my students and department colleagues.I would feel honored and grateful if you let me know about the possibilities. I hope you will make yourself and your resources to Ethiopian academic institutions as you have started it in Addia Ababa University.Please also work for the betterment of your Amharic and try your hands in it.
    thank you,

  3. I sometimes find myself unfocused. I blamed it on the feeling or perhaps disease called home sick. I didn’t know how to let it out. But when I read your poems it gives a relief- just to breath in the pure air. your poems have the ability to put things together.

  4. Love the image of the magpie returning stolen things, and like the magpie I am, I immediately wondered if I could usefully steal it 😉

  5. I heard you on the radio
    I was inspired
    on the radio – it was not wired
    You write for peace
    – people dancing in the rain
    we shout for joy
    when there will be no more pain
    no more pain from the weapons of war
    Just pain to warn us to remove a hand from the fire.
    When will we ever learn?

  6. Heard you read this on the radio just now while i was getting ready for the day. I am not particularly stressed at the moment, but I do have a painful disability that makes things harder than they should be, and I always have too many things going on and too many thoughts in my head. I put my hairbrush down and listened. The thoughts that had no business in my head shrugged and walked off, and it felt like tiny vesicles of not-yet-formed worry were popping and dissolving and leaving space behind. I have never been a reader of poetry, but I get it now. I can’t help feeling you have altered the course of my day – thank you.

  7. Dear Mr Sissay,
    I fell in love with your peace poem when you read it on radio 4 this morning. Would you mind if I read it at a drama festival this month? It’s the most beautiful thing (and much needed) I’ve heard fir a very long time.

  8. I’ve been using your poem for an assignment at university. I’m at Huddersfield, so I see it every time I go in!! The assignment’s a piece of music – but not like your normal stuff for singers or instrumentalists – it’s for 4 voices and they’re all reciting the poem. If you ever want to hear it, when it’s finished, I’ll post a link!

    I hope this doesn’t offend you – I really like your poem!!

  9. Hi. Today I had to take a year 7 English class in NW London (I’m a supply teacher.) I was given worksheets with your poem. (I’d never heard of you before.) The class was an assortment of 12-yr-olds, not the most intellectual, from different nationalities, some with little English. I read Let There Be Peace. The kids loved it so much! They begged me to read it again. They discussed what each bit meant to them, and how it made them feel. You now have 25 new fans. Thank you, it was a real pleasure to see young kids engaging with poetry in such a way.

  10. My friend’s son snag your poem with The Brighton Youth Choir and I was totally smitten with your poem! What a moment of light and joy hearing your poem sung today! The words are truly sorely needed by the world today, especially here in the USA where things are anything but peaceful…thank you! ❤️

  11. Hi. Today I read of you in the “I” paper and immediately looked up your poetry…and fell in love with “Let there be peace”. It was so refreshing to read thought provoking words so simply and yet profoundly written. I read it a number of times and found newness each time. I now intend to discover more of your writing and purchase your book. This is the first time I have approached an author but felt I had to tell you how much your work has affected me. Many thanks.

  12. Hi Lemn, I think you’re an inspiration, particularly your positivity. I’m putting together a lesson on Let There Be Peace for year 7. I was going to get them to analyse it for key words and structure and metaphors but having read these comments I am just going to ask them to write what the words mean to them and see what they come up with.

    Sometimes we (teachers) lose sight of the true joy of poetry. No wonder so many kids hate it.

    I’ll let you know how they get on. Thank you.

  13. Hi Lemn
    I sought out some of your poetry after seeing you on ‘ Imagine ‘ with Alan Yentob which was great.
    I love ‘ Let there be peace ‘ and shared it with my colleagues in an NHS community adult mental health team as part of our poetry wellbeing.

    It was widely loved and a welcome relief in our day.
    Many thanks Lemn for your beautiful words and imagery

  14. Hello Lemn,
    I have just read your book, My Name is Why, and your peace poem, this after a dear friend in Bristol sent me the link for your latest project, Tell Me Something About Family for Brighton Festival, just a few days ago (I live in Brighton)..
    Dear Me !! I am laughing shouting crying but cant really express how much it has all meant to me, particularly as a Mum of three beautiful children (now grown up). SO from me here the BIGGEST HUGEST
    (How to you do it, how are you so full of inspiration) What a beautiful human being you are.
    Please just keep on going 🙂 🙂 🙂

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