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Thursday, 29 November, 2001, 13:30 GMT
Poet honours New York dead
Andrew Motion
"Classical, austere": Andew Motion on his new poem
Poet laureate Andrew Motion has written a poem for the BBC's live coverage of the Westminster Abbey service in memory of the British people who died in the US attacks on 11 September.

Click here to read The Voices Live

About 80 Britons died in the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, and numbers remain inexact as only four people have been positively identified.

The specially commissioned poem, The Voices Live, pays tribute to the dead and their family and friends.

Nearly 4,000 people were killed in total in the attacks on New York and the Pentagon, in Washington, and in another hijack that ended with the plane crashing in Pennsylvania.

Motion, who was appointed in 1999, aims to convince people that poetry is, and should be considered, part of their everyday lives.

Public concern

His role includes marking special state events with a poem, and previous works include the marriage of Prince Edward to Sophie Rhys Jones and the Queen Mother's 100th birthday celebrations

He has also written verse to mark events and causes of more personal public concern, such as the Paddington rail disaster and the charity Childline.

Motion's work involves working with the government to promote his ethos at grass roots levels among the young.

The government has, he says, been "very receptive" to his wish to see poetry protected and promoted in the National Curriculum.

Click here to return

The Voices Live, by Andrew Motion

The voices live which are the voices lost:
we hear them and we answer, or we try
but words are nervous when we need them most
and shutter, stop, or dully slide away

so everything they mean to summon up
is always just too far, just out of reach,
unless our memories give time the slip
and learn the lesson that heart-wisdoms teach

of how in grief we find a way to keep
the dead beside us as our time goes on -
invisible and silent but the deep
foundation of ourselves, our cornerstone.

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See also:

04 Oct 01 | UK
Reflecting on the attacks
19 May 99 | Entertainment
Andrew Motion - A life in words
04 Oct 01 | Arts
Diving, by Andrew Motion
19 Jul 00 | UK
Motion's poetic mission
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