Bede’s Story of Caedmon: http://www.heorot.dk/bede-caedmon.html
Caedmon’s Hymn (West Saxon Version)
Nu sculon herigean heofonrices weard,
meotodes meahte and his modgeþanc
weorc wuldorfæder, swa he wundra gehwæs
ece drihten, or onstealde.
He ærest sceop eorðan bearnum
heofon to hrofe, halig scyppend;
þa middangeard moncynnes weard
ece drihten, æfter teode
firum foldan, frea ælmihtig
Old English Poetry Recordings (including Caedmon’s hymn): http://www.wwnorton.com/college/english/nael/noa/audio.htm
Caedmon too I was lucky to have known,
Back in situ there with his full bucket
And armfuls of clean straw, the perfect yardman,
Unabsorbed in what he had to do
But doing it perfectly, and watching you.
He had worked his angel stint. He was hard as nails
And all that time he’d been poeting with the harp
His real gift was the big ignorant roar
He could still let out of him, just bogging in
As if the sacred subjects were a herd
That had broken out and needed rounding up.
I never saw him once with his hands joined
Unless it was a case of eyes to heaven
And the quick sniff and test of fingertips
After he’d passed them through a sick beast’s water.
Oh, Caedmon was the real thing all right.
All others talked as if
talk were a dance.
Clodhopper I, with clumsy feet
would break the gliding ring.
Early I learned to
close by the door:
then when the talk began
I’d wipe my
mouth and wend
unnoticed back to the barn
to be with the warm beasts,
dumb among body sounds
of the simple ones.
I’d see by a twist
of lit rush the motes
of gold moving
from shadow to shadow
slow in the wake
of deep untroubled sighs.
munched or stirred or were still. I
was at home and lonely,
both in good measure. Until
the sudden angel affrighted me—light effacing
my feeble beam,
a forest of torches, feathers of flame, sparks upflying:
but the cows as before
were calm, and nothing was burning,
nothing but I, as that hand of fire
touched my lips and scorched my tongue
and pulled my voice
into the ring of the dance.
Hearing the harp, like hearing my enemy’s horn,
filled my heart with fear even when I was
longing for heaven to come down into my hands
so I could pray and praise in the company
of men in the mead-hall, those ordinary mortals,
my friends and my kinsmen from whom I fled
to bungle my way to the barn to bed down
with the animals, not expecting the angel, who appeared
and said: “Sing to the Shaper the beginnings of earth and sky!”