The Pillars of the Earth

Purbeck Marble

The Pillars of the Earth

What is this power
That holds up cathedrals ?
That bring in the pilgrims,
And keeps out the gales ?
It isn’t lord Jesus,
Nor bishops and beadles,
It isn’t the faithful,
Nor relics and grails.
Forget all the masons
With stone tetrahedrals,
Forget all their chisels,
And braces and nails –
The answer is columns !
Those load-bearing needles,
Those orderly uprights,
Those masts without sails.
And the finest of columns,
So stately and regal,
Use marble from Purbeck
In multiple scales.

Now, wildlife in Purbeck,
From roe-deer to seagulls,
From rabbits to lizards,
From fishes to whales,
Are nothing compared
To her beasts without equal –
But who are these heroes ?
Well, there hang some tales…
For hidden in hedgerows,
There lurk her great people:
Like bees in her fields,
And yeasts in her ales –
But her mightiest creatures
Have built ev’ry steeple:
The lime in the limestone
That polish unveils –
For marble from Purbeck
That holds up cathedrals,
Is held up in turn
By the shells of her snails.

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