Poem of the North

Fifty years of the Northern Poetry Library

From Canto 5

Bede writes a history of the English people

Ask, why I carve feathers to the spike of knives
when men are too busy to read. I should be bricking
windows into arrow-slots; should be bending
yew to longbows. The year roars with blood,
the murder of faith, and enemies close, closer.
Kings hammer mistrust into swords, demand
battle songs, and the world deafens with terror
of one’s neighbour. I turn to words.

Their little lamps will outlive my flicker,
that of lords, and of this current fear. I grind

gall, vinegar, hone my quill. Feed the dark age with light.

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