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Lay for the Day
13th February

The feast of St Modomnoc, a beekeeping Irish monk who studied with St David at his monastery in Pembrokeshire. When he was due to return to Ireland, some of his bees swarmed on the mast of his ship and so, bringing them back with him, he introduced apiculture to his native country.
He is one of the several patron saints of beekeepers, others being St Bernard of Clairvaux (feast on 20th August), St Ambrose (also patron of candlemakers, see the poem for 7th December), and St Gobnait (see 11th February).
From the book of Praises:

42. Of Bees

We are warm and many,
many thousand sisters,
virgin geometers.
Our mother-complexed home
we sweated scales of wax
from our bellies to build.

She giants on jelly
and makes us devotees
who hatch her usurper.
Only the males escape
perpetual labour,
the melancholic drones.

We clamber through colour
to inifinity’s smell,
eternity’s texture;
by the spring tree that throws
open a thousand rooms,
courted, wooed, delighted.

We fan each other, dance
the names of flowers, comb
the pollen from our legs.
The tessellated cells
we brim with our lifelong
journeying, distilled miles.


John Gibbens
from Collected Poems


The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar