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Ebbsfleet

"There is no Ebbsfleet."1
Not now, perhaps, but long
ago two Teuton brothers
sailed the Kentish coast along

and landed there. Horsa2
and Hengest3, legends marked
by Middleton4 and Beowulf5,
first there in England6 disembarked.

Whether they were Kentish kings
or, as claimed, were Jutes or Danes,
their wayward channel silted in,
and now their ways are those of trains.7

London's orbit8 takes it in,
a link of continent to car,
a parking lot, a place to land,
as brothers did once, long before.9

1 A headline from today's BBC Online.
2 Fought against Vortigern; killed in the Battle of Aylesford. (More here.)
3 One of several possible people, thus his semi-legendary status. (More here.)
4 Thomas Middleton's play is entitlted Hengist, King of Kent, or The Mayor of Quinborough.
5 Actually, only Hengest shows up, as follower of Finn. Both show up in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and in Bede's writings.
6 More precisely, on the isle of Thanet.
7 Ebbsfleet International Station officially opened yesterday, January 29th, part of Eurostar links to mainland Europe.
8 i.e. the M25, the London Orbital, in addition to it being near Greater London.
9 At least one site say they actually landed at Aylesford. That seems improbable to me, looking at a map, given how much further inland Aylesford is.

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
sushidog
Jan. 30th, 2008 12:30 pm (UTC)
That's really jolly good.
Do you like Heaney?
owlfish
Jan. 30th, 2008 12:43 pm (UTC)
I've had an abiding admiration for his talent for words since an undergraduate poetry class. I couldn't tell you which volume of his poems we read; the titles don't look familiar to me now, looking over them, and, like so many of my books, most of my poetry books are back in the states. I've been intending to read his Beowulf translation for a while now.
chickenfeet2003
Jan. 30th, 2008 12:47 pm (UTC)
I've been intending to read his Beowulf translation for a while now.

Better still, get the CD of him reading it. It's magic.
eulistes
Jan. 30th, 2008 03:59 pm (UTC)
So this is Seamus? It's gorgeous! Thanks, O.
owlfish
Jan. 30th, 2008 04:25 pm (UTC)
That's an amazing implied compliment, but no, I wrote it. (Heaney is a family friend of sushidog, thus the question.)

(And actual compliment, of course.)

Edited at 2008-01-30 04:25 pm (UTC)
eulistes
Jan. 30th, 2008 05:03 pm (UTC)
Heavens. People who can write stuff like that are impressive. I particularly like poetry that mixes the past and the present in that way. Kudos, my dear.

*bows extravagantly*
(Deleted comment)
owlfish
Jan. 30th, 2008 12:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

The only historical OS map I have is the one for York. I'd love to have the rest of their medieval collection - and they'd be useful to have in general. I have a decent collection of books of historical maps, but they're less helpful as they are of maps made in the Middle Ages, and I doubt I have any detailed enough to encompass what was a fairly rural location then. (Now it's greater Gravesend and a London commuter town, from what little I've seen of it.)

(I considered pursuing the Aylesford argument further before posting and then thought it wasn't urgent - after all, it undermines the whole point of the poem! The Wikipedia article on the Bishopric of Ebbsfleet, established in 1994, also notes that Ebbsfleet was decided *by vote* in the '90s as the location where St. Augustine landed when he arrived in England. Contemporary record only has him arriving somewhere along the Kentish coastline, so who knows.)
makyo
Jan. 30th, 2008 01:20 pm (UTC)
A little over twenty years ago, I sang in my local church choir (St John the Baptist, Beeston, Nottingham). Shortly after I joined, the vicar retired, and was replaced for about a year by a youngish curate in his first parish placement. After about a year, a more experienced vicar took over, and the curate was given his own parish elsewhere. I left the choir shortly afterwards, to spend more time focusing on my schoolwork and my agnosticism (I'd come to a dawning realisation that I just wasn't convinced by Christianity - it didn't seem in any way a plausible model of the universe).

I didn't really think much more about my time at St John's until a year or so ago when our old curate turned up again, quoted in a BBC news item about the possibility of female bishops in the Church of England. It turns out he's now Bishop of Ebbsfleet. He's one of (I think) three 'Provincial Episcopal Visitors', who provide support for traditionalist clergy and parishioners who disagree with the ordination of women.
owlfish
Jan. 30th, 2008 04:26 pm (UTC)
I would really love to know how Ebbsfleet came to be voted the place where Augustine landed in Kent, and thus of significance for a roving bishopric.
whatifoundthere
Jan. 30th, 2008 05:00 pm (UTC)
This is just marvellous. And the footnotes help without being intrusive. I love it!

But the main reason I'm writing is not that. No, it is this: NEEEEEEEEW PLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT!
owlfish
Jan. 30th, 2008 05:27 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

(And about time too! So exciting!)
jennybeast
Jan. 30th, 2008 06:04 pm (UTC)
nice work!
curtana
Jan. 30th, 2008 06:35 pm (UTC)
That's beautiful.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )