Siegfried Sassoon on Alcuin

The following poem by Siegfried Sassoon is particularly memorable to me [EFR] for it was read at my friend Donald Bullough's funeral in 2002. Donald was a leading expert on Alcuin as was reported in his obituary which appeared in the Scotsman:-

Nothing typified Bullough's total dedication to research more than his study of the life of the 8th-century ecclesiastic Alcuin of York, who was Charlemagne's tutor. Bullough had already published The Age of Charlemagne in 1965 - a well received book which was translated into German and French immediately. This fascination with Alcuin led him into further - and ever more detailed - research both in Britain and in Europe.

Bullough revised and added to the manuscript over a period of 30 years and when his cancer was diagnosed at the end of last year, he sent it to the publishers. He lived to read and agree the final proof and his biography ("Alcuin: Achievement and Reputation") will be coming out later this year.

In fact Donald A Bullough, Alcuin: Achievement and Reputation was published by Brill on 30 December 2002.

Awareness of Alcuin

by Siegfried Sassoon

At peace in my tall-windowed Wiltshire room,
(Birds overheard from chill March twilight's close)
I read, translated, Alcuin's verse, in whom
A springtide of resurgent learning rose.

Homely and human, numb in feet and fingers,
Alcuin believed in angels; asked their aid;
And still the essence of that asking lingers
In the aureoled invocation which he made
For Charlemagne, his scholar. Alcuin, old,
Loved listening to the nest-near nightingale,
Forgetful of renown that must enfold
His world-known name; remembering pomps that fail.

Alcuin, from temporalities at rest,
Sought grace within him, given from afar;
Noting how sunsets worked around to west;
Watching, at spring's approach, that beckoning star;
And hearing, while one thrush sang through the rain,
Youth, which his soul in Paradise might regain.


JOC/EFR August 2007

The URL of this page is:
http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Extras/Sassoon_Alcuin.html