Etheldreda on the island of Ely
surrounded by the circle of the sea,
keeps her own counsel in her inherited country.
In hovels and alleyways they whisper her name.
How she has given away her money and gowns,
closed the world out, to live on an island of women
They cross in boats following her pilgrim shoes,
wanting those things she knows. To listen to
the distant singing, to touch the mystery, she has understood.
She lives by one candle counting a long thread of beads,
lives on bread and the honey of bees.
feeds vagabonds, takes in lost children,
listens to the dying’s words. Giving witness
to stone and the sea which takes and gives back:
the bodies of drowned sailors, baskets of silver fish.
Her warrior husband sent away to his castle
She poor and barefoot, keeping a vigil
In silence, at a holy well,
at the deep blue shrine of her Lady.
Etheldreda is taken from the CD, Fen Song: A Ballad of the Fen.