Old and Sick at Solesmes

catholic poetry room

This week’s poem in the Catholic Poetry Room is by William Prendiville.                                                                                                                                         


Old and Sick at Solesmes

He put the steaming bowl
on the enormous wooden table
where there was a basket
lined with linen and
a few pieces of bread.

He was alone because he
was sick. Everyone else
was at Mass
in the stern chapel
where there was an
epitaph of the founder, set
centuries ago.

There, in the chapel,
cold and hollow, sprinkled
with a few tourists – for
here was a center of renown for
Gregorian song – the monks sang
soft as steam rising round
his bowl.

The Word would follow,
no less gently. He
could not hear but he
knew – for six decades
he had helped them sing
the world anew: praising
in the morning, bathing it each eve
like dew.

William Prendiville was born in Ireland, raised in Canada and currently lives in Paris. He is the author of the novel Atlantic Winds and the memoir Love Is Nothing but the Fruit of a Long Moment.

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By Jeffrey Essmann

To submit poetry to be considered for the Catholic Poetry Room, visit our submission guidelines page. Jeffrey Essmann is Poetry Editor for IntegratedCatholicLife.org and always searching for the best Catholic poetry from today's poets as well as those of the past. Jeffrey is an essayist and poet living in New York. His work has appeared in numerous magazines and literary journals, among them America Magazine, Dappled Things, the St. Austin Review and The Road Not Taken. He is a Benedictine oblate of Mt. Saviour Monastery.