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Caedmon’s Face
by Michael R. Burch

At the monastery of Whitby,
on a day when the sun sank through the sea,
and the gulls shrieked wildly, jubilant, free,

while the wind and Time blew all around,
I paced that dusk-enamored ground
and thought I heard the steps resound

of Carroll, Stoker and good Bede
who walked here too, their spirits freed
—perhaps by God, perhaps by need—

to write, and with each line, remember
the glorious light of Caedmon’s ember:
scorched tongues of flame words still engender.



He wrote here in an English tongue,
a language so unlike our own,
unlike—as father unto son.

But when at last a child is grown.
his heritage is made well-known;
his father’s face becomes his own.



He wrote here of the Middle-Earth,
the Maker’s might, man’s lowly birth,
of every thing that God gave worth

suspended under heaven’s roof.
He forged with simple words His truth
and nine lines left remain the proof:

his face was Poetry’s, from youth.

“Cædmon’s Hymn,” composed at the Monastery of Whitby (a North Yorkshire fishing village), is one of the oldest known poems written in the English language, dating back to around 680 A.D. According to legend, Cædmon, an illiterate Anglo-Saxon cowherd, received the gift of poetic composition from an angel; he subsequently founded a school of Christian poets. Unfortunately, only nine lines of Cædmon’s verse survive, in the writings of the Venerable Bede. Whitby, tiny as it is, reappears later in the history of English literature, having been visited, in diametric contrast, by Lewis Carroll and Bram Stoker’s ghoulish yet evocative Dracula. Keywords/Tags: Caedmon, hymn, Old English, Anglo-Saxon, oldest English poem, Whitby, Bede, Carroll, Stoker
Tommy Randell Jul 2019
I wandered, lonely as a frown,
At midnight through my empty town.
Unmade by drink and celebration -
A meandering Wordsmith on some random peregrination
Maybe, finally, heading home.

Seagulls by the harbour side
Bickering and squabbling, waiting out the tide.
Water lapping, chuckling with laughter.
A bottle bouncing somewhere, ending with a shatter.
Window boxes overgrown.

Every shadowed alley, every darkened road,
With a writer's measured footfall, following my nose.
A couple kissing, or maybe even more so.
A cat arched & hissing, over a rat's beheaded torso.
A ****** on a traffic cone.

Steps go upward into unlit gloom.
Raucous laughter from a second story room.
The smell of Fish & Chips, vinegary & rank.
***** & Graffiti on the ATM at the Bank.
No bars open & no bars for a taxi on my phone.

Until at last a place to sit and soberize,
Looking down on the rooftops with less bleary eyes,
The yachts at moorings along the harbour side,
The sandy beach a golden margin 2 miles wide,
The moon, a ball of polished chrome.

Midnight into morning is this Poet's time for sure -
The waves of words surfed for pleasure,
Life as metaphor and meaning given breath,
Moments found & fashioned into ideas at their best
Hopefully, and then some...

Home unerringly, the long way round.
Bed inevitably, after I've written the evening down.
It's what poets do. We've got an extra chromosome,
We're driven to it like it's a scribbling syndrome -
Our DNA probably has a Rhyming Genome!


Midnight Into Morning - Tommy Randell
I have walked home many many times through my town in the small hours. I follow different routes depending on my tiredness or my sobriety. I stop and look into its shabby corners or listen to its night times moods. It is a luxury and a gift this small place is safe enough for old daft poets like me.
Tommy Randell Mar 2019
At 67 my days are filled
With poetry and a dog.
The time it takes to wake,
Shower, and walk to the beach.

I pick up pebbles, she sniffs,
As we amble along.
I set my sights on the rock
Where we usually choose to be.

I get my life has led me here
Entertained by my own cliches.
Like Kermit on his stairs,
Half way is always the best place.

The tides are set as usual,
Twice a day to remind us
There are patterns and rhythms
For comfort if needed.

There is conversation too.
The dogs shouts at me,
I throw the ball,
Dependencies are conceded.

I am no old man, of course,
Modern living is kinder
Than to our parents and All.
Indeed, there are miracles -

Extra years and health galore,
Greater chances to be wiser.
Even the choice, if I may say,
To be a little less cynical.

Sea glass is common here,
Rough polished and opaque -
A bit like me these days,
Not shiney, you might say.

But there is beauty, daily.
And reason, make no mistake -
To view life with a certain grace,
And see gold amongst the greys.
Whitby, named by the Vikings of course - White Bay - has 2 miles of gently shelving yellow sand for a beach. Caldey, my seven month Fox Red Retriever, and I go there most days any weather ...
Tommy Randell Sep 2017
The 2 miles of beach from Whitby to Sandsend curve away westward. Beyond Kettleness Point seals play in the kelp-beds, barking at echoes, and stones roll together at the cliff's edge, making sand randomly. This is a place my mind is drawn to when I am far away from here.

Treasure comes to this place. Here someone once spoke a poem in my ear, a poem about Love and for once about me. Here, I  found a whole case of French wine washed ashore, and drank it in a week with two friends. I came here before I had to have my dog killed and again afterwards to throw the collar and lead far out into the darkness.

On summer evenings with a clear sky there is a Blue in the heart of the sea here that shines through even closed eyes. They say such a light can actually be tasted, they say by cupping your hands out in front of you and then passing it to your lips you can actually drink it. They say such a light can be heard sighing like liquid glass in the waves' curl.

The locals warn you must never drink it, you must never listen – that if you do the Blue from the heart of the sea will lodge in your heart and you will never again leave this place. In life your dreams will come here from far away, in death your Soul will pass to the heart of a grey seal to be brought back to Kettleness barking at the cliffs all the long cold nights until, finally, all the Blue you have become will be the Blue in the heart of the sea breaking wave upon wave to the long sands' sweep as it curves away westward from Whitby to Sandsend ... from Whitby to Sandsend ... from Whitby to sands' end ...
http://www.wonderfulwhitby.co.uk/wonderfulwhitbyblog/whitby-uk-sunsets/
Isaac Godfrey Jun 2017
Wonderful town of Whitby, hundreds of marketplaces,
England's own astounding alleys of traditional aces,
Many things this obscure area tends to hide,
the most enjoyable boating docks and brine and quayside.
With cobbled streets aplenty,
Whitby is where I'd like to be,
no matter where on earth,
Whitby is the best for me.
Wonderful town of Whitby, Honour be upon it's history,
But how it's backstory came to be differs as a mystery.
Once upon a supposed legacy of legend and lore,
One quite possibly never seen before.
With it's Mystic vampiric anomaly,
Whitby is certainly my place,
no matter where on earth,
I'd love to be upon this space.
Wonderful town of Whitby, many books wrote about it,
with Whales, abbeys and vampires, it's hard to doubt it,
rare and beautiful creatures, dance within the mist,
Humpback, White and Minkeys on this list.
With it's Whales and sightings,
Whitby is my Sweven,
no matter where on earth,
This town is my Heaven.
The word 'Sweven' is derived from a dialect describing it to be a Dream-like vision, alike a paradise, I attempted to locate more origin and backstory but was unable to find more information on the word. It apperears it comes from old Norse and English.

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