Poem of the Month

March 2017

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.