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Once a year all the chairs are removed from the nave of Wells Cathedral. The uncluttered space is even more magnificent than usual, and made a perfect setting for a Candlemas concert by Opus Anglicanum on 25th January 2013.


no stars tonight

by twos and threes
muffled in fur and fleece
here come the pilgrims
into the muted light
of a wide glade
between fluted trunks

shadows stripe the floor
et nunc et semper
chant patterns the silence
O admirabile
now and always

memory is stained with absence
de profundis

one incense-bearer
two candle-bearers
smoke flows like ground-mist
spice in the nostrils
and in the lungs’ fractal labyrinths
et nunc et semper
fireflies in the gloom
motes dance in tallow-beams
anima mea

rapt faces
turn to the east
absorb the chant
give back the gleam

east to south
follow the light
south to west
follow the song

psalm and antiphon
echo in vaulted canopies
high above the forest floor
whereunder bishops lie

footfalls trace a line of song
from each tree-shadow
to the next

one voice fills the space
to the highest tracery
stone ribs and rafters

umbra and penumbra
sanctus sanctus sanctus
west to north
candles cluster
under the celestial clock
north to east
lights and echoes dwindle

unwilling to leave
the enchanted grove
the pilgrims drift
by twos and threes
into the sting and spite
of slanted sleet

pull coats close
gloves on
hats down
scarves tight

and each one harbours
a pinpoint of light

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Victoria Somerville permalink
    May 25, 2013 9:45 pm

    AMA, I love this poem. I can hear the voices, see the candles and must pull on a hat and mittens. V

  2. May 25, 2013 11:06 pm

    Thank you so much, Victoria. And thank you for visiting!

  3. January 8, 2022 10:44 am

    Utterly beautiful, felt like I was there partaking of the mystery and experience xx


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