The Sunken Cathedral, Dunwich

This is where the Old World ends,
Old Europe dreaming in lost coins of Latin
Scattered on the sea floor. I can see it
Through the doorless doorway, ruined,
Or the space where it should be, below the shoreline
Where the old road goes to drown its head
Below the surf in fleeces. There the cathedral nests
Among tibia and ribs, among the bladder wrack.
Its towers dolphins, its choirs drowned
Where the senile sea addresses itself in rumours.

I have seen it in a diver’s face mask, trembling
With dim fanfares of shoals and tumbling walls.
There mosaic Christ kosmokrator has his finger
And Bible raised towards the muffled, inverted din
Of fishing boats.

Somewhere in the mind, the cathedral bells still beat
Submerged in caverns. Their tongues are bone. In stone,
An armoured head peers through sandy layers, extinctions,
deaths
That lead like ladders to the present.

My great-grandfather knew this place and cycled here,
Filled with the certainties of factories each one stamped
With Queen Victoria’s face and an empire
Whose milestones were chimneys. Now
There is no withdrawing Arnoldean roar but a simple sense
Of plodding on between the breakwaters
And the wrecks, torpedoed, weeping rust,
On little pathways between magnificence and folly.

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

“To the Bone,” which recently premiered on Netflix, tells the story of 20-year-old Ellen (Lily Collins), who is living with anorexia nervosa.
Karen RossJuly 21, 2017
The distinction between the disciplines of theological work and how these function in our common life is necessary.
What is it about habits and cassocks that capture the imagination of even secular audiences?
Ashley McKinlessJuly 21, 2017
Why Ron Hansen will never read the Gospels the same.
Ron HansenJuly 20, 2017