John Betjeman

Saint Cadoc

A flame of rushlight in the cell
On holy walls and holy well
And to the west the thundering bay
With soaking seaweed, sand and spray,
       Oh good St. Cadoc pray for me
       Here in your cell beside the sea.

Somewhere the tree, the yellowing oak,
Is waiting for the woodman's stroke,
Waits for the chisel saw and plane
To prime it for the earth again
       And in the earth, for me inside,
       The generous oak tree will have died.

St. Cadoc blest the woods of ash
Bent landwards by the Western lash,
He loved the veinéd threshold stones
Where sun might sometime bleach his bones
       He had no cowering fear of death
       For breath of God was Cadoc's breath.

Some cavern generates the germs
To send my body to the worms,
To-day some red hands make the shell
To blow my soul away to Hell
       To-day a pair walks newly married
       Along the path where I'll be carried.

St. Cadoc, when the wind was high,
Saw angels in the Cornish sky
As ocean rollers curled and poured
Their loud Hosannas to the Lord,
       His little cell was not too small
       For that great Lord who made them all.

Here where St. Cadoc sheltered God
The archaeologist has trod,
Yet death is now the gentle shore
With Land upon the cliffs before
       And in his cell beside the sea
       The Celtic saint has prayed for me.