No explanation needed .

The Cost of Conquest, 1066

Heald Þu nu hruse,     nu hæleð ne mostan,
eorla æhte!    Hwæt, hyt ær on ðe
gode begeaton.     GuÞ-deað fornam,
feorh-bealo frecne     fyra gehwylcne
leoda minra,     Þara ðe Þis lif ofgeaf,
gesawon sele-dreamas.    — Beowulf*

In sagging sunlight,     at summer's end
the wind whispered      that winter came.
Harold's crown      was hardly held
when doom decreed       a dreadful battle.
William awaited       the war-worn men;
Normandy's knights,      they knew not the land
nor the taught minds       of their mailed enemies,
Thanes: men-leaders       thoughtful and thundering.

On Hasting's field the soul of England died
And no one knew to shed a tear for loss.
But Beowulf and Alfred surely sighed
From unmarked graves, knowing only dross
Would show of what was England's Golden Age;
That Earth alone would hold England's art,
The treasure living deepest in dead hearts
Silenced by the conqueror's lustful rage.

*Hold now, you earth, now that men may not, the possession of earls. What, from you good men got it first! War-death has taken each man of my people, evil dreadful and deadly, each of those who has given up this life, the hall-joys of men. (Donaldson trans.)

On Playing a Church Organ
(published in
First Things)

It's something about the darkness of the place,
when I relax a moment to decide
what makes this work so pleasing; is it the thrill
of lights trained on the tall cross, or perhaps
the colored figures in the glass? But then
the stack of staves upon the stand cries out
for study, and fingers arch again and dance,
though not gracefully at first -- more like cautious
children avoiding creaky boards. Yet hidden
pipes still awake and sing -- and the dark, cool room
seems full.  And then I realize: it is.

Easter Hymn
He answered and said unto them, I tell you that,
if these should hold their peace, the stones would
immediately cry out. Lk. 19:40

Were the walls shocked by the sudden light
that surely swelled to grip and break
    the drooping boughs of night
when daystar dawned inside a rock-hewn grave?

The living stone -- was it prepared
to shudder, live, and sing awake
    a world grown unaware
that God could speak without the tongues of men?

Did those stones begin to weep
when women came at break of day
    and forced them back to sleep
by running to proclaim an empty grave?

And do they know God has arranged
when Earth and Heaven pass away
    that they will also change
and join to sing His glorious Amen?


Black wings flap nearby;
a feathered throat is cleared.
A sharp wind strikes my face.
I know that death is near.

I feel always unready
to address the world,
yet faces turn to backs
when words remain unfurled.

So nest-edge mocks my steps;
I soon must fall or fly.
The mind's walls shatter silently.
"Save me, my God!" I cry.