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frogprints


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Posted Sun Feb 15th, 2009 11:29pm Post subject: Gutenberg & Vellum
I was enthraled by the recent program about the development of the printing press, and the mention of the use of vellum for printing books, reminded me of this beautiful poem written by the late and sadly missed friend, Andrew Waterhouse.
It was written during his stay as poet in residence on Holy Island whilst studying the Lindisfarne Gospels.

Calfskin - Andrew Waterhouse.

After various centuries the book’s pages
finally bent and realigned; escaped
their tight gatherings and the library,
stood upright once more, four legged, wet nosed.

The covers sat in place on the animal’s back,
like a saddle or stunted wings. Some words
became clearer: on its tongue 'Caelorum',
along the tail 'Beati qui lugunt'. Fine initials

followed the lines of the ribs, in the fur
grew spirals and knots and between the eyes
a cross flamed. Of all the evangelists,
poor Mark came off worst, being far too close

to the arse for comfort. Now, Luke’s healing band
settles over the calf’s heart and it shivers
in the rain, takes a second first breath,
kicks out, begins to gallop across the grass.

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