The High Window

Church bells have pealed out across towns and villages in Europe since medieval days. Published in the quarterly poetry review magazine The High Window, Iris Anne Lewis’s poem  ‘The Bells of Lübeck’ explores the history of the German city, of Lübeck, through the story of the bells in its large and impressive church, the Marienkirche.

Once the centre of the Hanseatic League (a union of towns and merchants’ guilds that dominated northern European trade in the medieval period) Lübeck and its citizens enjoyed great prosperity. However, as a result of a bombing raid during the second world war, much of the town and the Marienkirche were engulfed by fire. The bells fell nearly 400 feet and crashed to the floor of the church in a molten and broken state.

The church has been magnificently restored, as has the city, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, the bells remain exactly as they fell – a shattered heap, partially melted into the ground beneath the vault and serves as a peace memorial.

You can read Iris’s poem about the bells here 

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