Silence by Thomas Hood – All the World is a Stage Project


This video is part of the ‘All the World is a Stage’ project, initiated by Wysinfo in order to encourage international cooperation through culture.

To watch other performances that are part of this project, follow this link
Wysinfo – ‘All the World is a Stage Project’ Front Page.

Silence – By Thomas Hood

Text of the poem

THERE is a silence where hath been no sound,...


There is a silence where no sound may be,
In the cold grave–under the deep, deep, sea,
Or in wide desert where no life is found,
Which hath been mute, and still must sleep profound;
No voice is hushed–no life treads silently,
But clouds and cloudy shadows wander free,
That never spoke, over the idle ground:
But in green ruins, in the desolate walls
Of antique palaces, where Man hath been,
Though the dun fox, or wild hyena, calls,
And owls, that flit continually between,
Shriek to the echo, and the low winds moan,
There the true Silence is, self-conscious and alone.

About the poem

‘Silence’ is not one of Thomas Hood’s most famous poems, but it is nevertheless considered one of the more powerful poems depicting silence. The poem was first submitted by Hood to the London Magazine in February 1823, but was rejected. Later it was apparently printed in the Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine in 1839.

The performer in the video selected this poem because, while standing at the shore of the Dead Sea, this was the poem that best described her emotions. The poem refers to different kinds of silence – an absolute silence with no signs of life, and the silence of abandoned locations of the past (ruins) where only the sound of the wilderness persists – both are strongly experienced beside the Dead Sea and the surrounding region.

About the author

Thomas Hood (1799 – 1845) was a British editor, publicist, humorist and poet. He was born in London but moved to Scotland as a young man, after a period of illness, to be near paternal relatives. Later he moved back to London.

Hood was known for his humorous and poetic contributions to newspapers and magazines. His most famous poems are ‘Song of the Shirt’ about a seamstress, and ‘Song of the Labourer’. Both of these poems indicate a strong empathy for the working class.

He suffered throughout his life from poor health and died at the young age of 46. He was admired by many important authors and public people of his time such as Sir Robert Peel and the British novelist Thackeray.

About the performer

The poem is recited in this video by Sara, a retired technical writer with a passion for poetry. It was taken during her visit to the Dead Sea region in Israel.

Sunrise and salt reflections along the shore of the Dead Sea

About the location

The video above was recorded on the southern shore of the Dead Sea. The superimposed images within the video were taken at the Masada fortress/palace and from the nearby Zoar viewpoint that overlooks the mountains and canyons beside the Dead Sea.

The Dead Sea, also known as the Sea of Salt, is in fact a lake. It is one of the lowest points on earth, situated over 400 meters below sea-level. Its water has a salt content which is 8 to 10 times that of the oceans. No multi-cell organism has been known to survive under the water. In the video we see the ‘mushrooms’ of salt that form along the shore and on the water surface.

The region is rich in history dating back to Chalcolithic times (approximately 3000 BCE). Many believe that the well-known biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were located somewhere near the southern basin of the Dead Sea.

From the Israelite to the end of the Byzantine eras, the land provided a passageway for merchant caravans and a recreation spot. It has been known throughout the centuries for its therapeutic properties due to a combination of hot mineral springs, therapeutic mud, low ultra-violet radiation, and a high level of oxygen. Read more about the Dead Sea…

Climbing on a salt mushroom in the Dead Sea to film ‘Silence’

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For an interesting analysis of the poem and the literary devices used in the poem see https://literarydevices.net/silence/