Thursday 19 August 2021

Mercian Hers

 All roads lead back to Mercia – even the BBC news. I heard this story on the radio bulletin and my heart gave a little Geoffrey Hill-related leap – the site of Offa's widow Queen Cynethryth's monastery has been located. Rather wonderfully, it is situated next to the churchyard of Holy Trinity, Cookham, where Stanley Spencer set his famous Resurrection painting. In Hill's great Mercian Hymns, Cynethryth, as far as I can recall, barely gets a mention, though she was unique among Saxon queens in having her image on a coin, and Pope Adrian I wrote to her and Offa jointly about the bishopric of Lichfield. Hill, genius though he was, was undeniably a very masculine poet.


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