Caedmon's Choice

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A Poem By Gerald Alan Ney

Caedmon's Choice 06/25/2015
(See also Poet's Dilemma & Imperative
and Task & Purpose)

["All that I have written appears to be as so much straw"

- St Thomas Aquinas]

Sing me
A song,"
Said the man.
And though he doubted
His voice,
The vowels flowed
And the consonants crackled
Like undulating flame
Bathing the Yule log
Spitting sparks
With snaps and reports
From his humble hut
To the monks'
Common room,
Thence to the halls
Of earls and thanes.
Down the ages
The kennings echo,
Having crossed over
The whitecapped
Whale road
To distant lands
Beyond his dreams.
No matter how
Inadequate my croakings,
Cracked and splintered straw,
I too am heir
Of Caedmon's choice
To use his voice.


  1. from Wikipedia: Cædmon is the only Anglo-Saxon poet known primarily for his ability to compose vernacular verse, and no vernacular verse survives that is known to have been written by either Bede or Alfred. He is the earliest English Northumbrian poet whose name is known. An Anglo-Saxon who cared for the animals at the double monastery of Streonæshalch (Whitby Abbey) during the abbacy (657–680) of St. Hilda (614–680), he was originally ignorant of "the art of song" but learned to compose one night in the course of a dream, according to the 8th-century historian Bede. He later became a zealous monk and an accomplished and inspirational Christian poet.
  2. Kenning: a conventional poetic phrase used for or in addition to the usual name of a person or thing, especially in Icelandic and Anglo-Saxon verse, as “a wave traveler” for “a boat.”.

- Gerald Alan Ney