(photo by Kevin Danks; Geograph project, 2005)
a re-blog because it has been in the news recently…
THE BALLAD OF ST. MARY OVERIE
John Overs was a waterman.
Lucrative trade plied he:
before a bridge the Thames did span,
he controlled the ferry.
A goodly living he then made,
so bought a large estate,
but, miserly, he felt betrayed
by what his servants ate.
To feign his death seemed a good plot:
his household then would fast,
but nothing happened as he’d thought-
they gorged what he’d amassed.
Enraged he leapt out of his bed.
A servant at the wake
thrashed an oar about his head
until his skull did break.
Thinking that Satan had appeared
to take his master’s soul,
he split John from the nave to beard:
the ferryman paid his toll.
He paid his toll for his folly.
His daughter, deep-distressed,
in bereavement’s melancholy
beat at her brains and breast.
“Send for my lover. He must come
in this my hour of need.
We two have gained a princely sum.
Tell him to come. God speed.”
Her lover hastened in his greed,
beside himself with glee.
But, riding he did not pay heed;
was injured fatally.
Her whole inheritance she gave
to found a convent there.
Two lives were lost, so she would save
others through her prayer.
St. Mary Overie became
Southwark’s Priory and
St. Saviour’s Church was its new name
when Cromwell stormed the land.
Now a cathedral, it stands proud,
though founded on men’s sins.
London was thereby endowed,
which proves Grace always wins.