Bordeaux Bay

Bordeaux Bay
Bordeaux Bay by Guernsey-based artist Tony Taylor

Saturday 24 September 2022


This rhyming poem is, in part, a homage to the men whose vision and labour built great cathedrals throughout Europe, and, in addition, an attempt to chart the growth of a religion, its abuse by a corrupt priesthood and its eventual decline. 


Centuries it took them. Young men

grew old. Their sons, the skills passed down,

with treasured ageless tools, resumed

the sacred task. Great columns loomed

above the human ants, nut-brown

and shaped by labour. Four in ten,

perhaps, lived to grow old and sere.

The rest, their lungs and backs destroyed

by endless toil, bequeathed their tools

to others: sturdy men, young bulls,

upright and proud to be employed

in God’s good work that final year.

Sunlight, through stained glass windows, fell

on crowded pews. A city grew

around the great cathedral’s walls.

Priests crouched in dark confessionals

while prayers and supplications flew

upwards like doves. The solemn knell

of  bells, as loud as God’s own voice,

tolled births and deaths, called men to prayer

while generations slipped away.

In latter days, in disarray,

God’s spokesmen found their greed laid bare, 

their declarations merely noise.

Now tourists come, their visits brief,

in groups with cell-phones or alone,

to photograph and contemplate

this monumentally ornate,

historic testament in stone

to Man’s unreasoning belief.

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