little faith

st andrew's church, covehithe, suffolk

Stone deaf the silence of the void:
“who are the faithful?” murmur hangers on
peering from lank and salt-tongued grasses

hushed house of God that rang with prayer and praises
through earth to heaven glass of arc stained light
shone His eminence

Medieval pomp all spent by circumstance
an upkeep too steep for the dwindling mass
dissolved by puritan and act of devilment

within its shell, in lee of Gothic tower
Saint Andrew scavenged flint and rubble walls
re-roofed an altar space, with thatch for birds

the church is dead, long live the church
yet we of little faith return as tourists
agape to see such buildings of belief

enter on tiptoe, and in museum whispers
remark these ancient carvings, that agéd plaque
the simple altar and the great oak door

fragmented magic, mystery and awe
but in the vacuum hope will comprehend
photons from a world without end

© Laura Granby 2015

simple lines to a favourite place. More of this Suffolk church in my photoblog post Sacrifice to eternity.
Meanwhile am joining all the lovely, talented folk at “Poetry Pantry

 

 

 

50 Comments on “little faith

  1. I love the religious imagery and ‘culture’ running underneath this poem..like time..and tradition…particularly love the line ‘lank and salt-tongued grasses’ – it does indeed give pause for thought wondering why we silently tiptoe around ruins..let’s hope magic and awe and mystery will always prevail

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    • it a solitary windswept piece of Suffolk history with a living church rebuilt within – love the last line of your comment ❤

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  2. There is something so special about old religious buildings and pictures.. it’s like they talk to us through centuries.. maybe as ruins they become even more alive, when they open up to winds, the spirits merge with reality in a way… a beautiful poem.

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    • the magnificent old church is open to the wandering spirit but within them the new church sits and so often the visitor approaches as though stepping in to a museum

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  3. Oh this just so VERY good, Laura. Your use of richly wrought language and rhythm bring to mind the Anglo-Saxon poets.

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    • chuffed with the comparison Tish and you’ve inspired me to read and study more of these venerable ones – particularly like the use of alliteration and something that Dylan Thomas was wont to do – kenning- creating compounds nouns of allusion

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  4. Always interesting to peer into the past and the ancient places of worship carry the concentrated energy of the people who lived at that time.. It is the connection to that energy that keeps us fascinated irrespective of our religious beliefs I suppose…

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  5. It is curious that people would prefer to see a ruined church and wonder at its history yet are are reluctant to enter a living one to be part of that ones future. We worship other things now, don’t we?

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  6. Interesting to think about the evolution of this church…undoubtedly once vibrant and central to people’s lives. Eventually deteriorating due to expensive upkeep, and now it seems to be mostly a museum to honor what once was. From reading your comments, it seems there are still services there, for which I am happy. God still lingers in this holy place. Kind of reminds me a bit of when I was in Coventry. I visited the old bombed out Cathedral and the new. I felt much more prayerful in the old one, as I think it was built to honor God. The new one….I felt was more built to honor man’s achievements. Anyway, I am glad the church you wrote about has new life.

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    • lovely long comment Mary – out of the ashes of the old, rises new but less certain faiths alas

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  7. Beautiful ~ I love the vivid description of this old Church, still alive and filled with spirituality and mysticism.

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    • it is a wonderful reincarnation – thank you Loredana

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  8. Very deep my friend or maybe it is just me….I love how you create these images using words like, ‘salt-tongued grasses’ and ‘re-roofed an altar space, with thatch for birds’. Many levels to ponder….is religion dead, God, church…churches abandoned a future filled with what….and then there is the looking back at the past in wonder…is it so far removed from the now or the future….see I told you, I am diving deep today!

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  9. This is breathtaking writing. I felt I was tiptoeing, too, as I read, in a hushed and sacred space. How has modern life lost that deep faith? We likely need it now more than ever before. Most admire “we of little faith return as tourists”…….

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    • C. S. Lewis had it right – loose the magic, loose the faith! thank you for your encouraging commentary Sherry (and for upcoming ‘interview’)

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  10. This line is so interesting:
    “we of little faith return as tourists
    agape to see such buildings of belief”

    I think it functions as a comment on society both then and now. I do not find this to be judgmental, but an observation on how we have all changed.

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    • not judgemental perhaps Donna – though the poet is never neutral but can be hard to read 😉

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  11. Luv the world without end live where the culture and the religion carries over into centuries present and future

    Luv your intro photos at the Pantry today. I visited Trafalgar Square and I also saw the changing of the guards way back in the 90s my first vacation trip to London

    Have a nice Sunday

    Much love…

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    • glad you liked the photos Gillena – a taster of London life that has changed a lot as well as a little from the 90s 🙂

      good to end on a positive note – world without end!

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  12. The language in this beautiful poem is so rich… I had to read it aloud. Well done.

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    • so glad you bothered Nan- I read and re-read to try for the right rhythm (am considering soundcloud)

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  13. I think, and I could be wrong, there is an essence, a spirit, left with the stones. The people may be gone, the building barely standing but hope still shines clearly with sparkles of magic and necklaces of belief.

    Thanks for visiting.

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    • in these ruins of belief rose a smaller, plainer church 🙂

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  14. I can see how such a place would capture your imagination. I enjoyed looking at the photoblog images too. Lovely that a small, thatched church has been raised inside the old ruins.

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    • thank you for following through Rosemary to see the source of inspiration 🙂

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  15. There is something that old buildings have. Some kind of magic, perhaps. They’re definitely beautiful pieces of art. That’s the draw for me. Lovely writing, Laura 🙂

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    • agree Torie – architecture so grand and yet constructed without modern aids but plenty of manpower and skill

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  16. “we of little faith return as tourists”–the way you describe this, I would, too, though I am a person of faith. I often feel the remnants of magic/holiness in abandoned sanctuaries. Your language is magical too.

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    • then you are not a tourist Susan in the new church but can feel the magic in the ruins

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    • love this comment Elizabeth – quite so!

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  17. I think even those that do not have belief walk gently in such places as if the faith of those gone before still live in the stones left behind. Even “living” churches feel as if they are more of a museum and showplace rather than being a place where spiritual things dwell and want to reach out to us. I once stumbled into Westminster in the middle of a service. I had forgotten it was a living church and not just a place of interest. Thoroughly chastened, I sat down and listened to the rest of the service.

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    • your experience proves the point so well – easy to forget that a church is not a museum – I’m always in two minds as to whether to take pictures but do so if no one is there praying

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  18. i think all medieval churches have a certain presence and mysticism about them. i would have been in awe if i visited them too, though i am of a different faith.
    thanks for bringing us along this journey in your lovely poem. 🙂

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    • am glad you enjoyed the journey to this place – thank you!

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    • thank you for that – endings are make or break

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  19. This is beautiful. I like the recollection of the sacred, the remembrance of old faith.

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    • thank you Myrna – and the faith that never grows old!

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