Friday, Oct 09, 2020
Some years ago, we sold a flyleaf that had been excised by a previous owner from a seventeenth-century book. On it, in a neat hand, appeared a charming six-line poem that we know now – thanks to digital access to first line records – to be an unpublished and otherwise unrecorded poem. So, we record it here:
St Winifred made a vow in haste,
That she would live a virgin chaste,
That vow for ever and for aye to last,
Unless perhaps good companie,
Or else extreme necessitie,
Should tempt her to ye contrarie.
Bad luck for St Winifred – if that was her real name – to be remembered thus. Supposedly a 7th century Welsh virgin martyr decapitated at the urging of her suitor Caradog for becoming a nun (certainly explains the first three lines), her cult didn’t really kick off until the 12th century but was flagging by the 19th century and there is modern doubt as to whether she really existed. There’s no doubt in the story though that her vocation required absolute virginity. So perhaps she never had to deal with either the joys of company or the challenges of necessity.