They tried and failed. They’re trying still
To steal our freedom; break our will—
The terrorists who torment days
With ire and fire and Hades’ blaze.
Our bones burn with their evil chill.

Their deeds are scribed with Satan’s quill—
Twin Towers Felled! They aimed to kill
The Western World. Sin never pays…
____They tried and failed.

They ply the plan they must fulfill
By drawing on the devil’s skill
To shred our flag, to dupe and daze,
To force us on our knees in praise
Of them. But future lips will spill—
____“They tried and failed!”



Susan Jarvis Bryant is a church secretary and poet whose homeland is Kent, England.  She is now an American citizen living on the coastal plains of Texas.  Susan has poetry published in the UK webzine, Lighten Up On Line, The Daily Mail, and Openings (anthologies of poems by Open University Poets).

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29 Responses

  1. Dic Asburee Wel

    It was the phrase “our bones burn” that carried me back in time. I can remember back in September of 2001, a sonnet I had written on 9-11 had to wait until 2010 to be published. It was rejected by the dozens of editors I sent it to. Finally, in 2010 Esther Cameron, who has since gone to live in Israel, published a part of the sonnet. It has never actually been published completely; so it is with satisfaction that I see Mr. Mantyk has published Ms. Bryant’s rondeau on 9-11, so it gets to see the light of day.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Dic Asburee Wel, what a melodic name – I want to sing it aloud! Thank you for your comment. I’m sad to hear it took so long for you to get your sonnet published. I remember some of the British newspaper reports on the event claiming the conduct of the Western World was somehow to blame for what had happened. Perhaps this might explain a reluctance to publish your sonnet. I am grateful to Evan for publishing my poem, and would love to read yours.

      • Dave Whippman

        Well written and relevant poem. I totally agree, Susan, the west seems to have a kind of masochism where terrorism is concerned.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much for your comments, Dave. They’re always appreciated. We are living in sad and strange times, indeed… I do, however, feel the wind of change on the horizon – for the good I hope.

  2. Peter Hartley

    Susan – A stern and timely reminder of a supremely evil act. As is often remarked of the assassination of Kennedy I imagine most people alive at the time will remember what they were doing as the horror transpired. Etched in my brain is the sight of office workers leaping from some of the highest windows to escape the heat. The terror of those final moments for thousands is unimaginable and I find it really is too terrible to try to contemplate anyway. When I went to New York a few years later I went to the Police Museum but I could not visit Ground Zero. Thank you for this little reminder of an event for which even the breadth of the Atlantic can afford very little anaesthetic.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Peter, thank you very much for reading and commenting. Your observations have hit a raw nerve with me. The date is my great aunt’s birthday, and, instead of celebrating, we were appalled by the horrific images on telly. I remember going to Sainsbury’s that evening to be told by the checkout lady that her brother was in the building and likely dead. This heinous act of terrorism affected many worldwide. You say; “the breadth of the Atlantic can afford very little anaesthetic”, and you are absolutely right.

  3. Margaret Coats

    It’s quite perceptive to choose the rondeau as a remembrance form at this point in time. As you say in the first line, “They’re trying still.” A rondeau frequently has a torch to pass, and faith to keep, as in McCrae’s “Flanders Fields.” As we read your rondeau at present, it’s easy to see allusions to events happening around us. Most powerful, though, is the contempt “Of them.” Fully stopping the poem at that point makes it a very strong measure, full of scorn for terrorists past and present. And then you confidently pass the torch to the future. There will be more struggle, but may that future refrain be uttered not long from now.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Margaret, thank you very much for your astute analysis. “In Flanders Fields” is one of my favorite war poems and I especially like the rondeau form. You have tapped into all of my thoughts. I deliberated over the closing lines, and only hope my confidence in passing the torch to the future is not misplaced. It would appear we are in a fight for our freedom right now and I hope more and more people come to understand how important that battle is.

  4. Sally Cook

    Susan —

    When the planes hit, it was a beautiful September day
    and I was on my way to get a haircut. I knew nothing of what was going on. When I arrived I noticed a strange silence in the room. The owner stepped forward and said she could not do the haircut because a relative worked in the World Trade Center. I didn’t understand. She gestured toward the television and someone turned it on.
    A few minutes later I understood. The owner put her arms around me and cried; I held her.
    Then a worker stepped forward and said “I”ll cut your hair; we have to go on.”
    A little thing, but something I’ll always remember. Because that’s what Americans are made on.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Dear Sally, this is a truly sad yet heartening story. How unimaginably dreadful it must have been for all those friends and relatives watching the building their loved ones were in burn to the ground… and, what an admirable gesture for the worker to come forward to assist the owner during this time of angst. Thank you for sharing the story of this unforgettable haircut, but, more than that, the story of kindness, strength and solidarity from fellow Americans who are, indeed, made of stern stuff.

  5. Satyananda Sarangi

    Greetings Susan ma’am!

    My earliest memories of this incident are from the time when I was 7 years old. I remember I was scared. The usage of “evil chill” took me there.

    Best wishes

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you for your comment, Satyananda. What a dreadful fright you experienced for one so young. It certainly was a chilling act of pure evil I pray is never repeated.

  6. Joseph S. Salemi

    I was teaching an early 8 AM class that morning at NYU, which is located at 8th Street, not very far above the World Trade Center. As I waited for the elevator to go to street level, suddenly some NYU maintenance workers came and commandeered it, taking it straight to the roof. In all my thirty-five years at NYU, this had never happened before, and certainly not during class change.

    When I finally got down to street level, I could sense terror and near-hysteria in the streets. Persons were gathered at the base of Washington Square Park at Fifth Avenue, and were watching as one damaged Tower belched a blackish smoke. There was frightened talk of an attack on the Pentagon, and about planes crashing in Pennsylvania. I was sure that we were the subject of a sneak attack, similar to Pearl Harbor.

    I called my parents in Queens to see that they were OK, and then decided to grab a subway train home to my wife in Brooklyn. The police were preventing persons from using the subways, but I sneaked in by a side entrance and went down to the tracks, where I convinced the crew of a work train to let me ride with them to Brooklyn.

    As the work train headed towards Brooklyn, at one point there was a frightening crash and a shudder. I didn’t realize it, but we were passing directly under the World Trade Center just as the second Tower was hit by another plane. We got into Brooklyn safely, but as I came up the subway steps into the open air, the entire atmosphere was filled with smoke, ash, and thousands of sheets of paper (business correspondence) that had floated on high winds from lower Manhattan across the river to Brooklyn. Both Towers had collapsed right down to their foundations.

    As a young English officer said of the Battle of the Somme, “July 2, 1916 was the most interesting day of my life.” Talk about British understatement! I can say the same about September 11, 2001.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Dr. Salemi, thank you very much for sharing your personal experience of 9/11. The vivid images you portray capture the sheer horror of the moment in a way my poem never could. The nearest I have been to such fear was in 7/7 – London’s taste of Islamic terrorist suicide attacks on morning commuters using the underground and buses. I had many friends and family working in London at the time. The entire phone network was down. No one could be contacted, and many lived in dread of the outcome. I will admit to being fearful when I boarded a train or bus in the city for a long time afterwards. I lived through the IRA attacks too, and loathe the evil of terrorism. I think my British stiff upper lip has saved me from becoming a nervous wreck. 😉

  7. C.B. Anderson

    Brava, Susan. It’s said that there is no patriot better than one who has swapped flags. Thank God they let you come to this country. The USA is much the richer for it.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      C.B., thank you! I am proud to be a fellow American and your wonderful words have made my day!

  8. Dic Asburee Wel

    In retrospect, I suspect Ms. Bryant is correct. These lines composed immediately after September 11, 2001, were not politically correct.

    Avenge those lately murdered souls, whose bones,
    incinerated on the urban floor,
    were ripped untimely from their daily chore
    of work and service in those high-rise zones,
    in those towering stones.
    Do not forget their terror or their groans,
    who like the sheep of yore, were killed not for
    what they had done but who they were. No more
    let us forget their hard, horrible moans,
    in those harrowing tones.
    Their blood and ashes sow the world with woe.
    Oh, make the reticent, resolute, bold.
    Such evil cannot be allowed to grow;
    it must be nipped off at the bud, cut cold.
    For only then can life continue, go
    on, and the goodness of the world unfold.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much for posting your poem, Dic Asburee Wel. I have read it with interest.

      • Lew Icarus Bede

        Mainly Milton, some Shakespeare, and a touch of Poe. Who else would one invoke at such a time?

  9. David Watt

    Susan, your uplifting rondeau blows a raspberry to terrorist intentions.

    I remember that we could hardly believe the 9/11 scenes seen on T.V.
    Even here, the moment remains etched in our memories.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much for reading and commenting, David. I like the idea of blowing a ripe rondeau raspberry to terrorist intentions. I am certain countless people, near and far, will never forget that horrific moment – and we never should.

  10. Mike Bryant

    Your perfect take on the present day situation is enhanced beautifully by Your choice and use of the form. Amazing as always!

  11. E. V. Wyler

    9/11 is the appropriate date to publish this perfect rondeau. I loved everything: the message, the rhyme, the meter, and the alliteration … all excellent. Great composition.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much for your lovely and encouraging comment, E.V. – it’s much appreciated.

  12. Cameron Geranios

    Hi Ms. Bryant!
    My English teacher gave us an assignment to address a social issue in the world; I chose terrorism. For one portion of the assignment, we had to do some sort of artistic expression of the issue. There were examples of recording a podcast or painting an image or something similar. He, in class, called my attention to the option of performing a song as I am a musician and had played for the class before. I was planning on recording a podcast because I figured that would be fairly easy, but after he mentioned it, I decided I was obligated to do a song. I asked him if I could find a poem online, put chords to it, and perform it, and he said that would be acceptable (I don’t have the brain juices necessary at the moment to write a song). I found yours, and worked all day today putting a piece together. In my opinion, it sounds quite nice. I was wondering if it is alright that I use your poem for my project? I can also send it to you if you would like to check it out first!
    Thank you!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Cameron, what an inspired and intriguing project. You can most certainly use my poem, and I would love to see the end result – perhaps you could post a link here. Here’s wishing you all the best with your venture. I look forward to hearing from you.

      • Cameron Geranios
        Here it is! I posted in on YouTube just for this! I hope you like it.
        I came up with a version that I am quite happy with considering I did it all today. Thanks again!

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Cameron, I’ve just listened and love it – well done! I’m sure your English teacher will be thrilled with your efforts. I’m honored and glad my words inspired you. Thank you very much for sending me the end results. When you reach heights of fame with your band, don’t forget your lyricist! 😉

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