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(tomb of Thomas Cantelope in Hereford

Cathedral: Wikipedia)

 

William Cragh was a warrior bold;

rebelled against the king.

Thirteen men were slain by him

and so he had to swing.

 

Outside Swansea Castle stood

the gibbet where he’d die.

Trahaern ap Hywel broke the beam

(they’d swung him up so high.)

 

Both were hanged again, it’s said,

from Terce until Prime.

Lady Mary* claimed his corpse

for burial in due time.

 

William’s eyes were bulging out;

his face was black as coal.

They wheeled him to Tom Mathew’s house,

while she prayed for his soul:

 

Bishop Thomas Cantelope,

hear me when I pray.

Restore to life this rebel here

and wash his sins away.

 

Her ladies took a silken thread,

to span the dead man’s length.

A candle of such size I’ll make,

as measure of faith’s strength.

 

The dead man’s feet began to twitch;

a fortnight later stood

and walked right through the Wassail Gate,

among the great and good.

 

The executioner and priest;

a thirteen year old youth;

Lady Mary’s son to boot

witnessed to the truth.

 

In English, Latin, French and Welsh

all doubts were then erased.

For each confirmed they felt the same:

William had been raised!

 

Will left his effigy in wax

and placed it on the grave

of Cantelope, in Hereford

and, steadily a wave

 

of veneration then arose;

priests were soon advised

of miracles and so they pressed

to have him canonised.

 

Will lived a further eighteen years,

till, Lazarus-like, he died,

but the tongue that swelled to choke him once,

on pilgrimage testified

 

that some recovered speech and sight

and lepers had been healed,

yet he alone was a twice-hanged man,

whose death had been repealed.

 

In Santo Severo church, the flesh

of  Cantelope rests still;

his bones in Hereford reside –

in Downside lies his skull.

 

 

 

 

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