Sonnet: Saint Senan (March 8)

Senan, possibly also Saint Sennan, was the founder of monastic communities in Ireland and Cornwall, including a monastery school at Land’s End in Cornwall. Why one would found a school at the edge of the earth is hard to guess at, but — from a druid’s perspective, and perhaps a teaching one as well — it’s a great place to observe the changes in the land and the world, and to get close to nature.  He lived about 544, which puts him at the time when the Irish were busy trying to save civilization — recording all the classical learning they could find while the old Roman empire unstitched itself into a great barbarian mess.  That makes his monasteries and his schools a kind of bulwark in difficult times, and a reminder that it is better to light many lamps rather than just one, if things seem to be getting bad:

Saint Senan, wandering with book and bell,
you lit candles in a darkening time,
not for exorcising demons to Hell,
but for ensuring survival of rhyme
and sweet reason into the coming age.
Few could predict how the years would play out —
first clannish troubles, then the Saxon rage,
then Viking invasion, and English clout.
No matter: your heart lay in founding schools,
and spreading education far and wide.
Lords ignored you, for a king’s ardor cools
when he sees no wealth. Yet you were a guide
for saving what could be saved of the old,
and lighting the lamps in the dark and cold.

Liked it? Take a second to support Andrew on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.