This snake on the northwest tower has long creeped me out. It’s one thing to fulfill your nature; it’s quite another to chalk up every impulse to giddy antiquarianism.
Heo cwaeð: “Seo naedre bepaehte me ond ic aett.”
—Gen. 3:13 (British Library MS Cotton Claudius B.iv)
In retsel-books and wrixled words we find
The Saxons, ever lacertine, bestirred
To grammar-craft, whose duple pronouns bind;
So sundered lives were woven with a word.
(A scene: Some god-forsook Northumbrish monk,
Emboldened by an asp to double think,
Professes wit and unk and unker-unk,
But shrinks from git and ink and inker-ink.)
Now I, who raveled precedent relate,
Propose that we be litchwise intertraced;
The wulf and adder gleam on plink and plait,
Yet no immortal lepus ever graced
The lapidated latch of art divine,
So spurn your sallow scrafe, forget the sun.
For you the relic, I the blessid shrine;
In wit and work alike, we two are one.