In Canterbury Cathedral

On a day sweet with April showers
the safe tires of our tour bus
had sung us south from London,

Sightseer pilgrims, cameras slung,
no need or time on patient plodding
horses for long diverting tales.

We stood at last at Beckett’s shrine,
lost in architecture and dates,
confused by Norman and Gothic.

Our ancient tiny guide seemed shrunk
into his suit, dwarfed by his clothes
as we all were dwarfed by time.

His small precise English voice went on: pronounced “Our Lord,”
and the words fell on us
like a benediction.

“Our”—incredible assumption of union
offered in passing to American strangers,
mortar for diverse motley stones.

Time and blood and history redeemed
from meaninglessness: two words
turned sightseers into pilgrims.

E. W. Oldenburg (1936-1974)

One comment

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