By the twisted black waters of
this desert-fen, a man of God came.
On Crow land his hermit hut made
where the grave-robbed barrow lay.
In this landscape of lostness he
journeyed to find the pearl of great price;
The Way, Truth, Life of all mankind.
A warrior by birth; “Guthlac” his name,
“The fruit of war” in the English tongue,
“Bella Munis” in Latin’s more elegant frame.
With the torrents of youth had Guthlac swam;
by sword and spear fame his right hand had gained.
‘Till one deep night, in still dreams of dark,
his hungry heart woke to the waste of his days.
In the merciful light of the sun’s morning rays
the enemies of Christ he promised to slay;
courage, mind, spirit and strength sacrificed
to the service of God to the close of his life.
At Repton the three-fold vows he made;
the armour of Jesus on his body he laid;
faith’s shield, hope’s helmet, the word’s double blade.
This warrior still hungered the fiercest fight;
The endless wrestle of the hermit’s life.
With prayers and blessings to the fen he came
the battle to join in the Devil’s domain.
On Bartholomew’s Day did the Holy Man land,
and in the saint’s company took his stand
to vanquish the demons who reigned the Crowland.
Words: Andrew Hawes (1954 – )