Liam Guilar's 'Two stories from Bede'

These poems are from ‘A Presentment of Englishry’ (Shearsman Books, 2019) where they form the first of two ‘interludes’ between the three major narratives in the book.

Bede’s ‘Ecclesiastical History of the English People’ was written in 731 AD.

Story One: Recovering Oswald’s Relics.

Oswald, King of Northumbria was defeated by Penda of Mercia in 642. Oswald’s body was dismembered and his head and limbs displayed on stakes. A year later, Oswald’s brother and successor, Oswiu, lead what modern media would describe as a ‘daring raid deep behind enemy lines’ to recover his brother’s head, hand and arm. The story about the raven is told by Reginald of Durham in the twelfth century.

I am intrigued by the reality of this story, hence the poem.

Story Two. The Death fo King Sigbert of East Anglia

The details of Sigbert’s story are basically as told by Bede. He was another of Penda’s victims. Or of his upbringing. Or circumstance. How much choice do you have?