Friday, July 25, 2008

John Betjeman

The domed interior swallows up the day.
Here, where to light a candle is to pray,
The candle flame shows up the almond eyes
Of local saints who view with no surprise
Their martyrdoms depicted upon walls
On which the filtered daylight faintly falls.
The flame shows up the cracked paint -- sea-green blue
And red and gold, with grained wood showing through --
Of much kissed ikons, dating from, perhaps,
The fourteenth century ...
Thus vigorously does the old tree grow,
By persecution pruned, watered with blood,
Its living roots deep in pre-Christian mud.
It needs no bureaucratical protection.
It is its own perpetual resurrection.