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.

Advertisement

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.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

Join Kirsten Powers, CNN analyst and USA Today columnist, and Rev. James Martin, S.J., Editor at Large of America Media and New York Times best-selling author, for a live show celebrating the 100th episode of Jesuitical.
America Media EventsApril 24, 2019
Certain memories linger in our hearts with special clarity. For me, a long-ago Holy Saturday that marked the day before my reception into the Catholic Church is one of those.
in ‘Never Look Away,’ Doctor Seeband, played by Sebastian Koch, smoothly transitions from denying the rights of the individual in the name of the Volk to denying them in the name of class struggle. (Photo: Sony Pictures Classics)
In ‘Never Look Away,’ the murderous eugenicist and the abortionist, the Nazi and the Communist, become one.
John J. ConleyApril 19, 2019
Father Schall was often described as a contrarian, but he had his mind set on the "essential and ultimate" questions.
Bill McCormick, S.J.April 19, 2019