St. Matthew from the Lindisfarne Gospels by Bishop Eadfrith (698-c. 721)A Poem on the Earliest Known English Poet: Caedmon The Society September 9, 2020 Beauty, Culture, Poetry 4 Comments Poet’s Note: The Venerable Bede tells us that in the 7th century Caedmon, “having lived in a secular habit till he was well advanced in years, had never learned anything of versifying.” Leaving a celebration because he feared having to sing, he spent the night in a stable where he took care of the horses. “A Person appeared to him in his sleep, and saluting him by his name, said, ‘Caedmon, sing some song to me.’ . . . Hereupon he presently began to sing verses to the praise of God.” “Others after him attempted, in the English nation, to compose religious poems, but none could ever compare with him, for he did not learn the art of poetry from men, but from God; for which reason he never could compose any trivial or vain poem, but only those which relate to religion suited his religious tongue.” In Days of Old by Philip Rosenbaum Fleeing the harp because he could not sing, With the cattle he laid him down to sleep. No man since Adam ever slept so deep. God took his fear (a hard, unyielding thing) And left a soft and lovely gift to cling To him forever. Do the barren weep When God gives children and a house to keep? With joy old Caedmon let his praises ring! Must what began in Eden end in Hell? For a thousand years poets of our tongue Remembered Caedmon’s God and all was well; But we no longer sing as we have sung. Cultures can die. And we have runes to tell What life was like when our first bard was young. Philip Rosenbaum lives in Gainesville, Virginia, with his wife, Jeanne. Now retired, he has been the director of a residential wilderness school for troubled boys, and the manager of a collection of antique fine art. He is the author of one published volume of verse, Holy Week Sonnets, and two published works in prose, How To Enjoy the Boring Parts of the Bible and The Promise (on the importance of honoring parents). NOTE: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to email@example.com. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 4 Responses Margaret Coats September 9, 2020 This is a finely crafted sonnet; note especially the unexpected and dramatic turn at line 8, where the poem moves with no transition (except the knowledge that a sonnet should have a turn about there) from then to now. Now seems less satisfying (as it should), but the moral is hardly pretentious, and the final sentence provides a resolution by pointing back to the beautiful octave. Well done! If I may suggest one little improvement, I would place a “the” separating the stressed syllables “years” and “po” of “poets” in line 10. That gives the line 11 syllables, but I am happy with two unstressed or elided syllables to begin an iambic line. Reply C.B. Anderson October 13, 2020 Simpler would be to omit “For” at the beginning of the line AND add a “the” where you specified. This would solve both problems. Reply Cynthia Erlandson September 9, 2020 “No man since Adam ever slept so deep.” and “Must what began in Eden end in hell?” are quite brilliant lines, connecting to each other, as well as connecting the poem to its theme of “our first bard.” Very beautiful! Reply Sophia Giudici September 9, 2020 I love the nod to the tradition of Christian poets, and how we no longer sing of the same things. Haunting and beautiful, and yet this image of Caedmon is somehow comforting. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.