ANDREW THORNTON-NORRIS is the author of The Spiritual History of English, described by The Times as “an enjoyable, erudite and cohesive journey through the history and philosophy of English literature in 150 pithily written pages.” He is also an accomplished poet, described by the University Bookman as “refreshingly direct, in contrast to contemporary poets whose poems are like hearing half of a telephone conversation [his are] like a Renaissance painting of the Crucifixion falling off a museum wall onto a viewer.” His website is at

Richard Whiting

(Last Abbot of Glastonbury and Martyr)

My little children, lives stretched out before

Them, mine all but behind me. Relics of

The saints provide our continuity,

The ones who live in perpetuity,

Their bones and clothing, just like we are in.

The falling leaves are death, turned into life,

This child of myself, I see him cry,

Beside his father, as his father cries.


Among the pagan dead, I caught a glimpse

Of what lies down below, of all the dead,

Their bodies writing in their torment, what

They thought was pleasure, now they know as pain.

The sea of souls above are swimming in

The light, and all the pilgrims on their way

Of penitence, from earth to heaven above,

Their eyes fixed on the light of holiness.

The god of modern life

A childlike god, more weak and petulant

Than Nero, clothed in gold and palaces

But destitute inside, with hatred where

Religious souls have love, and joy and peace.

So, throw them to the lions, let us love

Our selves, and those on our side alone,

As Germans did in nineteen forty three,

And so did we, in Dresden and Japan.

The empire is collapsing from inside,

And Mary is the mother we betray,

By our disobedience we wound,

Again, the Body of her Son, again.

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