Edmund: In Search of England’s Lost King out in paperback — Francis Young (Reblog)

Today is publication day for the slightly revised paperback edition of Edmund: In Search of England’s Lost King, my book about St Edmund of East Anglia and the hunt for his mortal remains published by Bloomsbury. The book has been updated to reflect the most recent developments, including the removal of the tennis courts behind […]

Edmund: In Search of England’s Lost King out in paperback — Francis Young

*Today is Saint Edmund’s Day. King Edmund of East Anglia was murdered by the Vikings, to become England’s first Patron Saint.

Samhain/All Saints: The Great Cloud of Witnesses — Sabbats and Sabbaths (Reblog)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.  [Heb 12:1. NRSV] As we approach the celebration of Samhain as well as All Saint’s Day, […]

Samhain/All Saints: The Great Cloud of Witnesses — Sabbats and Sabbaths

*Black Cat Pumpkin Necklace.

*What saint’s day were you born on?

Snatch

Photo by Rok Romih on Pexels.com


A consumed moon’s meagre light;
I pause, mourning this grey life.
Let me look at you —
ear lobes like pearls from tissue,
the emollient pallor of your royal flesh.
My finger probes your lips
as an owl hoots its presence:
I imagine your soul,
the skulls of saints

Copyright Francis Barker 2020

dVerse Poetics: The charms of Samuel Greenberg

England’s Heritage: Saint John the Baptist Parish Church, Peterborough

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Of course, the city of Peterborough’s greatest glory is its amazing cathedral, but that subject deserves a full article of its own.

One of the overlooked features of Peterborough, a growing city in the east of England, is the Parish church of Saint John the Baptist around the cathedral square.

Consecrated in 1409 during the reign of Henry IV, its close proximity to the cathedral and the modern shopping mall attraction of Queensgate, probably detracts large numbers of visitors. However, it is well worth a visit, and as is quite usual in England’s medieval heritage buildings, there are often some wonderful ‘hidden’ gems.

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The south porch entrance is most interesting, particularly the roof in the above photograph.

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The nave is very large and light with a rood screen.

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There is also a wonderful reredos.

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One of the most interesting features is this probable vestments cupboard, dated 1569, a wonderful piece of woodcarving, which I would think is limewood, similar in style to the plethora of such art produced in Germany during the same period.

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The pulpit too had some intricate woodcarving, probably oak by the look of it, although I did not find a date on it, but I would assume it is later than the earlier piece.

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There are even a couple of examples of medieval embroidery by the door.

words and photographs copyright Francis Barker 2019

Christian Confession! – Where Did All The Saints Go?

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Which saint, one wonders, once stood here in this empty space?

The empty church spaces now vacated, were once inhabited by colourful saints, or other such noble individuals. These days it makes me sad.

I am not a Catholic, yet, somehow our culture seemed to be somewhat lessened by their disappearance during the Reformation.

I think we lost more than just colour and ceremony in our lives at the time; these events seriously hastened in the modern materialistic world, which despite its obvious benefits, has stripped us of all our innocence now.

Just like the monasteries, creators and supporters of communities, were dissolved and stripped of all their wealth which was then reduced to its base monetary value, we too over time seem to have been stripped to the core, spiritually.

That’s how I feel. I’m not saying I wish to convert – there are reasons why I would not – but we need to reclaim something from our past, to move one step back, if you will, before we can go two forward.

Sure it was a long time ago, I’ve never known anything different from bare stone and whitewashed walls – but just think how colourful our English churches once were, how rich the lives of the faithful must have been.

copyright Leo F. Tanner 2019

Poem ‘Wordspiller’

The Old English epic poem Beowulf is written i...
The Old English epic poem Beowulf is written in alliterative verse and paragraphs, not in lines or stanzas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wordspiller (for Christopher Marlowe)

So you are the spiller of words, almost
as far from me as
Beowulf is to you.

Wordspiller, your crosspose outstands me,
but I backthink
the falling choirs where you sadwalked

your summerwaiting mind, to
when your glories were mere
airthought,

like the Greathallow who once
shorestepped there
to see for himself

your forliving Angles (he oncebethought
angels) and their saxon King
Ethelbert redeemed to newspells that

you mindweighed as truthless.
Now I meet your clearstead gaze; for
the muse which stretchfed you

has not alleaten you yet

poem © copyright david f. barker 2012

Poem ‘The Country’ (for England)

“Smile at us, pay us, pass us; but do not quite forget;
For we are the people of England, that never have spoken yet.”

from ‘The Secret People’ by G. K. Chesterton

The Country

It’s all around them, though they never see it,
like Jesus said about the Kingdom of Heaven.

Some, even a poet, say it cannot be defined,
even though they are immersed in it,
like fishes swimming blind to the sea.

They take it for granted, spurn it,
but they are born in it and nurtured by it,
educated and employed by it,
and then nursed to the very end.

They say the language is not ours,
that it belongs to the world,
or to the oppressed,
to anyone with a cause
except our own.

Countless cocks have crowed,
but each time its existence is denied,
its very future put up for discussion
by people who owe it everything –
yet who would rather die than accept it
for what it is.

poem and image © copyright df barker 2012

*** For Saint George’s Day on April 23, patron Saint of England (and other places) for around 700 years, at least. William Shakespeare (1564-1616), a candidate surely for ‘Greatest Ever Englishman’, was born, and apparently died, on this day. This is not meant to be overtly nationalistic, but to simply, starkly, re-iterate that the feeling that poets and people in the past saw as a reality, is still clearly evident today.

* First published, without the quotation, in poetry collection ‘Anonymous Lines’, available at amazon.

**The image is reproduced from a painting based on a scene at Southwold, Suffolk, a quintessentially English seaside town.

Poem ‘Pomegranates’

Pomegranates

They smile when I shut the heavy, creaking door,
from behind their neat wooden kiosks
stuffed with pamphlets and insipid books.
Smiles of recognition, a nodding
acceptance as if to say –
‘Oh, it’s you!’ Volunteer women serving Christ
better than those above them in Church.

I walk along the emphatic southern aisle under
über-Norman arches, at the far end of which
hangs a limp flag of Saint Andrew,
in honour of Mary Queen of France, Scotland
and some say of England, too.
Glancing to my left a young man kneels,
wringing hands beneath a life-size figure

of a crucified Jesus, hanging high in space.
He stares upwards, rocking gently back and forth,
as if imploring Him to be real,
to writhe, sweat, bleed, perhaps to save Himself
and then, somehow, to save him as well.
I’m here to light a candle outside
Saint Oswald’s shrine and to sit for a time

in silence inside the tidy chapel,
to pray for a poor boy in pain,
perhaps to ponder on those relics,
those bits of bodies and other things,
worshipped once and then dispersed,
despised in fractured minds,
to us now mostly objects of indifference.

Oswald’s arm must lie hereabouts,
known to someone who still believes
in its restorative power, like the monks
who consumed this place, where Domesday
came and went without event,
where the Chronicle of a people faded to grey
in an undrying ink. Still it awaits the next line.

In this fossil the dead are lucky.
They are dead but in faith, whereas I roam
restlessly among echoes and whispers,
a heartless void. I cut across through the choir
to find I’m not alone, where the true
Queen of Hearts lies. Letters of gold spell
her name to all, but for me she smiles

brighter than anyone alive,
a smile from scorched Iberian lands,
her fate to end up on this drab island
where fashioned pomegranates mark her spot,
from which she expects to rise
at some glorious hour, where, until then,
the anonymous faithful lay fresh fruit

and flowers to mark her special days.
I watch a tourist, a German tricolour sewn
onto his rucksack, as he reads
the commemorative words. A sudden,
unexpected pride washes over me
while he pauses on her ground to think –
where I was once intrigued.

Almost believing.

image and poem © copyright dfbarker 2012
*poem first published in poetry collection ‘Anonymous Lines’, available at amazon.com
**image from part of an historical reconstruction I did in watercolour of Spalding Priory, as it might have appeared in the fifteenth century.