Swithun was an Anglo-Saxon bishop of Winchester and, following his death, patron saint of Winchester Cathedral. I used his story as a prompt in a writing group last week and learned from the others the reason why it’s said he cries. (That’s one of the things I love so much about running creative writing classes – I learn as much from the participants as they learn from me!)
Here’s the poem I wrote about it in the workshop (tidied up a little!)
St Swithin was a humble man,
and when he knew his time was near,
he came up with a simple plan
to lay to rest in comfort here
on earth beside the common folk,
outside beneath the sky and air
and birds and trees, but sadly woke
to find he wasn’t there
but at the foot of the cathed’ral,
a place of pomp and circumstance
and quiet prayer against all evil,
not in the sun where nature danced.
And full of woe, St Swithin cried,
to think from what he had been torn,
and wished for all his heart he’d died
the humble man that he’d been born.
His tears fell down for forty days
and washed away all sense of praise.
© Alison Mott