An image of Whitby


kirkdale compositions



An Image of Whitby

Winter. Days darken and the night lasts long.

Late withered weeds bloom crystalline with frost.

Wind flings ashore the gull’s lamenting call

and fractures the fishpond image of ruined wall

where sightless windows stare on what is lost.

And faint strains stir, of Cædmon’s midnight song,

the cowherd chanting words of priceless cost:

Nu scylun hergan the Shaper-Lord of all . . .

Nine lines remain, the rest beyond recall,

in deepening night and creeping Fimbul-frost.


Nu scylun hergan hefaenricaes uard: “Now we must praise heaven-kingdom’s keeper.” Approximate pronunciation: Noo shoo-lun hair-yann heaven-reech-ez wahrd. The opening of Cædmon’s ‘hymn’ of Creation, in Anglo-Saxon, the beginnings (c. 680) of Christian poetry in the English language.

Fimbul-frost: In the pagan myth of the North, one stage of the onset of Ragnarök (the end of the world) was the life-obliterating Fimbul-winter (the Great Winter).


Mixed media photomanipulation. Source images by Michael D. Beckwith (Whitby Abbey photo) and Lara Mukahirn (acrylic texture). Photographer/Artist:Nicolas Raymond (

Text & notes copyright S. A. J. Bradley 2014, 2017.