The Inspiration of Caedmon

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The Inspiration of Caedmon

The poem "Caedmon," written by Denise Levertov, enlists readers to learn more about God and creation and by doing so expands their understanding of the universe. At one point or another in life, people go through stages where they have no inspiration and sometimes shrink back from something that they think is too complicated to achieve. Therefore, they are limiting themselves and their undeveloped talents, much like Caedmon was before his sudden inspiration by the messenger of God.

The story of the poet Caedmon and his sudden inspiration is recounted in the Venerable Bede's Ecclesiastical History. In the following lines of the poem "Caedmon" when he is asked to contribute to the songs, he feels that it is impossible and that if he were to attempt to sing, he would break their verses like a clumsy dancer:

All others talked as if

talk were a dance.

Clodhopper I, with clumsy feet

would break the gliding ring. (1575)

When anyone would try to nudge him forward to contribute, he would always use the excuse that he was a cowherd to escape the passing of the harp and retreat back to the barn with the animals. He would feel content and at home amongst the animals where he was not forced into improvising verses to keep the banquet lively. While he is sitting amongst the animals, the event occurs that changes his life. In the following lines of "Caedmon," he describes the angel that suddenly appears in front of him:

Until the sudden angel affrighted me - light effacing

my feeble beam,

a forest of torches, feathers of flame, sparks upflying: (1575-76)

The next few lines are in conjunction with a similar event that is recounted in the Bible. In the poem "Caedmon," the event is described as follows:

but the cows as before

were calm, and nothing was burning,

nothing but I, as that hand of fire

touched my lips and scorched my tongue

and pulled my voice

into the ring of the dance. (1576)

In Chapter 6, Verse 6 of Isaiah, Isaiah is told to prophesy and he is unwilling, much like Caedmon was unwilling to contribute to the passing of the harp. Isaiah has a similar experience when an angel confronts him in the following lines of the Bible:
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