Second Sunday After the Epiphany

Year A Readings:

  • Isaiah 49:1-7
  • Psalm 40:1-12
  • 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
  • John 1:29-42

Cædmon’s Vision

In the Old English Style

I ken a cross        cleaving clouds
high in the heavens        of purple hue
the mark of my liege         in the middle of morning
suddenly streaming        strange ray-daggers
fiery flames        from Wayland’s forge
burnishing war-bucklers        baring souls
loosening artifice        from feckless lives
who lack conviction        leaving at the last
grim cobble-ground        the gut of groundlings
daring discernment        on judgment day

Who was Cædmon?

Cædmon was the earliest recorded writer of Old English poetry. He lived in seventh century according to Bede’s “Ecclesiastical History of the English people.” Bede translated “Cædmon’s Hymn” from Northumbrian Anglo-Saxon into Latin and praised him as the most inspiring writer of the sacred verse. Unfortunately, most of the poems written by Cædmon are not found. But according to Bede, Cædmon wrote on Christian themes like creation of the world, origin of man, Exodus, Jesus’ incarnation, resurrection, preaching of apostles, terrors of future judgment, pains of hell and delights of heaven.

Cædmon became a lay member of the monastery in his later life and he was not well-educated. But in his vision an angel appeared and blessed him with the gift of composing songs. Cædmon later became a monk and spent the rest of his life in Whitby monastery until he passed away peacefully in 680 A.D.

My poem on this page is based on a story about one of Cædmon’s poems. His actual poem is now lost.

January 19, 2020

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