.

Her Silent Prayer 

for Isabel Vaughan-Spruce 

Beneath the whisper of suburban trees
One sombre, sunless, British afternoon,
A hushed and humble lady stood at ease
In thoughts that rose above the earth and moon
To float beyond the turmoil and the tears.
Those needful dreams adrift beyond this world,
Those buoyant musings soaring as they swirled,
Drew ruthless forces from officious spheres.

As life and limb was sucked from pulsing womb,
A pack of bullish bobbies on the beat
(All taught to snuff out thoughts before they bloom)
Sniffed out rogue notions loose upon the street—
The street where budding miracles are slain,
The street on which one single, soundless prayer
Swathed slaughtered souls in soft, unspoken care
And met with law enforcement’s cold disdain…

But not before a wish had winged its way
To Him who hears the silent words we pray.

.

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Susan Jarvis Bryant has poetry published on Lighten Up Online, Snakeskin, Light, Sparks of Calliope, and Expansive Poetry Online. She also has poetry published in TRINACRIA, Beth Houston’s Extreme Formal Poems anthology, and in Openings (anthologies of poems by Open University Poets in the UK). Susan is the winner of the 2020 International SCP Poetry Competition, and has been nominated for the 2022 Pushcart Prize.


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29 Responses

  1. Yael

    Susan, thank you for this beautiful poem about this terrible incident. I hope that the lady who prayed silently in her own mind gets to read your poem someday soon. I’m horrified to witness the depths of depravity into which the formerly great Britain has sunk.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Yael, thank you for your kind comment. I was utterly appalled when I read about the treatment of this poor lady… and in my home country. It sickens me to the pit of my stomach and sends a chill down my spine. Sadly, you’re right, Britain is no longer great!

      Reply
  2. Joseph S. Salemi

    The U.K. police force has now become a Gestapo or a Stasi. And in Parliament they are debating whether to create such “censorship zones” all over Britain.

    I don’t think there are any sufficient words for this kind of moral debasement.

    Thank you for your poem, Susan.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Joe, thank you for your comment… sad as it is. I am sorry to say I don’t recognize today’s British police force. I grew up in an era of the words: “If you want to know the time, ask a policeman”… I wouldn’t give them the time of day now, let alone ask for it. What a sorry lot! I don’t know how they bloody well sleep at night. I only hope Father Christmas left a few of them the gift of a conscience beneath the tree.

      Reply
  3. Joshua C. Frank

    Susan, great one as usual! I especially like the lines:

    The street where budding miracles are slain,
    The street on which one single, soundless prayer
    Swathed slaughtered souls in soft, unspoken care
    And met with law enforcement’s cold disdain…

    It’s bad enough that abortion is even going on, but that governments are arresting people for silently praying in front of an abortion clinic is beyond belief. I hate to think what’s next!

    Thank you for taking on this topic. We need more poets writing pro-life poetry.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Josh, firstly I’d like to thank you for inspiring me to take the topic of abortion on. It’s a subject that needs to be tackled from an angle other than the force fed narrative we have spewing from our TVs every day… the horrific facts surrounding this brutal and lucrative deed have been glossed over for too long. The world has been lied to and that needs to be put right.

      As for poor Isabel Vaughan-Spruce’s treatment by the British police, your words, “I hate to think what’s next” have crossed my mind. The answer is on the pages of the history books banned from the classrooms of today’s schools… that’s why many are partaking in the bullying or turning a blind eye… they have no idea of the future horrors they’re enabling.

      Reply
      • Joshua C. Frank

        Susan, I’m so happy to hear that my poetry has inspired you to take on this topic—that a poet of your caliber, one who has inspired me a lot and is even one of my major poetic influences, is inspired thus by my work! Thank you.

        It really is true that those who don’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it… also that those of us who do remember it are condemned to watch the world repeat it! I could go on for a long time about the horrors they’re already enabling today, given that the abortion death toll is already in the billions (yes, as in thousands of millions, that’s not a typo!).

  4. Norma Pain

    I find it so difficult to believe that this is actually happening to innocent people on a public street. The world has gone totally mad.
    Thank you Susan, for this beautifully written poem on a disgusting show of bullying. I am embarrassed for my birth country and where things are heading there.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Norma, you are right – the world has gone totally mad. I too am embarrassed and wholly ashamed of my homeland. I fear the entire Western world will follow suit if we don’t start addressing this wicked behavior. Norma, thank you for your words of sanity and continued support.

      Reply
  5. jd

    A beautiful homage, Susan, for the brave woman
    willing to stand firm in prayer for helpless
    and abandoned “slaughtered souls”. I, also,
    hope she can one day read it.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      jd, thank you very much for your kind words. I will see if I can find out how to send this poem to Isabel. I think she needs all the support she can get… she has my wholehearted admiration.

      Reply
  6. Julian D. Woodruff

    Well done, Susan, and thank you. According to the article for which you provide a link, one is liable to arrest in Birmingham for feeling, praying, or thinking one way or the other or any way, about abortion, or even trying to do so, within X distance of a killing center–in other words, behaving like a human being. But for some reason, the “thinking” of police is an exception. What a sham! Ms Vaughan-Spruce deserves our thanks and support for exposing it.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Julian, thank you very much, and you make a very good point… in this world of equality, some are more equal than others. Isabel Vaughan-Spruce is a brave woman of integrity. The UK is lucky to have her.

      Reply
  7. Mary Gardner

    Susan, thank you for this beautiful poem. I pray that the world soon may recognize that legalized abortion is mass murder of innocent children – an abomination.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      I’m praying along with you, Mary. Thank you very much for your encouraging comment.

      Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Russel, thank you for your support. I see you have alliteration fever, for which there is no cure! Welcome to the fun and fervor of the flamboyant yet formidable world of fanciful and felicitous flair. 😉

      Reply
  8. Margaret Coats

    Isabel Vaughan-Spruce has every right in our shared and lengthy tradition of English law to pray and think against abortion anywhere, and indeed to speak and provide information in any public space, as long as she does not harass anyone or block a passageway. The inimical authorities are desperate, because prayer is one of the most effective means of closing abortion facilities. Desperation becomes madness when no opposition of any sort can be tolerated. Let me just give you the example of a former Planned Parenthood counselor, who became seriously depressed if even one pregnant woman whom she counseled decided not to have an abortion. EVEN ONE who decided otherwise was evidence to her that she too need not have had an abortion. She realized that she was no longer facilitating choice for women, but seeking in despair to justify a decision she had reason to regret. Fortunately, she found another way to support herself. Thanks for your poem, Susan. It will save lives and freedoms.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Margaret, your story of the Planned Parenthood Counselor is so sad and explains so much. When there are no words to defend the indefensible and questions and discussions are prohibited… this is what comes next. A line has been crossed. I fear we’re witnessing the last shreds of freedom in Britain being torn away from the people. Here in America, we are heading the same way.

      Reply
  9. Adam Wasem

    “Oi, you got a loicense for thinking in front of that clinic there?” Good Lord, every time I think about how bad we have it here in the states–and it is bad and getting worse, don’t mistake me–something absolutely horrific gets reported from the former Commonwealth countries. I hate to be Ugly American Exceptionalist about it, but it just goes to prove the truism that without 1776, you get 1984. I can’t help but think of Tom Wolfe’s quote, too, that “The dark night of fascism is always descending on America, but always lands in Europe instead.” Yet another reminder of just how brilliantly brave and far-sighted the Founding Fathers actually were, and how disgustingly fascist and craven our current crop of “statesmen” is in comparison.

    Sorry, rant over, I appreciate how you tried to get into the mind of Ms. Vaughan-Spruce, since that’s where the critical events occurred. Internal drama is something the written word is uniquely suited to address, I’ve always thought, as opposed to movies or the stage, which are so much better suited for the external. Bravo for tackling it.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Adam, thank you very much for your observations. I hope with all my heart you are right. The Magna Carta played a significant role in the creation of the American Constitution and the Bill of Rights… but, sadly this historic document is but a wistful whisper on the lips of the British who were taught History in school. I fear the Constitution may be going the same way. There are already plenty of signs. David Benham was arrested outside a North Carolina abortion clinic… parents have been separated from their children because they refuse to acknowledge their child’s preferred pronoun… and our freedoms are being eroded daily. I love your passion – it has lifted my spirits. I want to join in your rant. I want to believe that we’re better off here in the USA… I do, to some extent… but, I’m worried.

      Thank you too for your comments on the poem. I can only guess at what was going on inside Isabel Vaughan-Spruce’s head based on what I’ve read about her deeds and her faith. I just wanted to highlight the cruel way in which she was treated and the need for personal thoughts to remain free.

      It’s great to see you back here, Adam. I really look forward to reading more of your poetry… it always intrigues and inspires me.

      Reply
      • Adam Wasem

        Thanks, Susan, I’m flattered you enjoy my stuff. I didn’t intend to take such a long break, but my wife and have been really busy the last 6 months with a taxing cross-country move and my launching a fledgling business, as well as just taking a bit of a breather in life to regain some health and sanity after slaving away in the corporate salt mines for the past 15 years. I’ll be back to submitting soon.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Adam, what an exciting new beginning. I hope you settle in soon and your business begins to flourish along with your poetry. We are often reluctant to embrace change, but I’ve found if we’re courageous enough to make that leap, it pays off. I wish you and your family happiness and success!

  10. sally cook

    Susan, I used to think that they couldn’t stop me from thinking ! But now I see how easily people can be intimidated, and I shiver. I think of priests hiding in closets during the reformation. Every day I hear people say they are afraid to write or speak what they really think. And when I do hear these things, I know even worse is coming. Thank you for addressing it.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Dear Sally, people are easily intimidated, and I don’t blame them. When met with the full force of a draconian government’s iron fist it’s difficult not to be. That’s why I applaud this lady, and others like her… those who are guided by the light and not blindly led into the darkness by bullies. There is a higher force than the pathetic puppet police force, those pulling their strings, and the puppeteers pulling the strings of the string-pullers… a force many have chosen to ignore. I have a feeling we’ll all have to choose a side soon… that’s why we were endowed with free will, that gift all bullies abhor. Sally, thank you for your continued support and appreciation of my poetry. Happy New Year!

      Reply
  11. Martin Rizley

    This is a beautifully written poem, Susan, exposing the ugly face of tyranny, but at the same time, affirming (with the closing couplet) the overruling providence of God, from whom no human power can ultimately hinder or hide prayers spoken in silence. Although it is shocking to see what is happening in Great Britain, in a sense, it ought not to surprise us, when one considers the spiritual dimension of the war against human freedom that is now unfolding before our eyes. Tyrants often realize just how threatening to their own self-deifying agenda is any manifestation in the public square of faith in a higher power than their own. Even silent acts may speak loudly against the totalitarian outlook and goals of those who are seeking to exercise complete dominion over the lives of others. That´s why such acts must be quarantined, hidden away from human eyes, lest anyone get the radical notion in their head that there is a higher Power than the state, to which the state is accountable. I am reminded of George Orwell´s statement that, “Speaking the truth in a time of universal deceit is a revolutionary act.” In like manner, in a time when governments are seeking to establish an atheistic public square to advance a globalist agenda, praying in public– even in total silence– is regarded by these would be demigods as absolutely seditious and revolutionary.

    Reply
  12. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Martin, thank you very much for your appreciation of my poem and for your invaluable assessment of the iron-fisted horrors at the hands of our own governments we are witnessing today. For me, these words say it all: “Tyrants often realize just how threatening to their own self-deifying agenda is any manifestation in the public square of faith in a higher power than their own.” These are encouraging words that all those who feel our world is descending into the godless chaos should take heart in. Those who don’t think their ‘self-deifying’ government have their people’s interest at heart, should know the power of the Truth and spread it far and wide… the Truth is powerful. Martin, thank you once again, and a very Happy New Year to you!

    Reply
  13. Brian Yapko

    Susan, there’s so much to say about your excellent poem documenting this horrendous news story, but I’m late here and everyone has said it better than I can. Let me just thank you for shining a spotlight on this extraordinary development on freedom of thought in the Western world as we sink down the abyss. Your poem in the face of this news story reminds me of a German song that was popular with the Resistance against Nazi Germany during World War II — “Die Gedanken Sind Frie”” which translates to “Thoughts Are Free” with one particularly meaningful phrase which says “hunters can’t shoot them (thoughts.)” Well, in the UK it looks like they’re going to try. Must we now invoke WWII era-style resistance just to think as we do? I thank God daily for the ability to think with impunity and I’m particularly grateful for the SCP poetry site which allows us to speak our minds.

    Well done, Susan. And thank you always for your willingness to fight.

    Reply
    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Brian, thank you very much for your appreciative and astute comment. The lines you mention in the German song are so relevant to these time… who would have thought it!? Did we not learn our lesson?! I’m with you on the SCP front… what a privilege it is to speak freely on these pages.

      I have some good news. I sent the poem to the lady concerned and received a grateful response of thanks. Her story is getting worldwide attention and she is receiving a lot of support. Let’s hope, with the world’s spotlight upon them, the UK come to their senses… soon! The truth matters!

      Reply

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