Finding Tyndale at Nibley – By Frank McMahon
In principio creavit Deus
caelum et terram,
terra autem erat
inanis et vacua.
A field of wheat, sides squared and neatly hedged.
As we come close, no weeds or flowers wild,
orthodoxy ripening as it should.
We enter, leave the budding, then out, onto
the escarpment, his tower tall and stark.
Its apex bears a golden cross refulgent.
Nearby, felled timber, neat- stacked, like faggots,
sufficient to incinerate thinkers
independent, heretics, men, women
seeking their single way towards God’s words.
This was his boyhood’s country, lived between
the Severn and these hills, open to the
winds, contrary, turbulent. Hard questions
grew amongst his learning, thorny,
provocative, answers growing hidden,
seeds in a husk of silence, nurtured later
in the thickets of deeper learning: Greek,
Hebrew, flowering in the glottal stops,
cadences and plosives of everyman’s tongue.
The ploughboy reads his Bible, pausing
longer at the turning of each furrow.
Around us in the rough, demotic ground,
knapweed and ragwort, hemp agrimony,
campion, sorrel, vetch and burnet rose.