The Deaths of Saint Winefride

by John J. Williamson
PenShells
Third Place, July 2016
Judged by Lee Nash


Fair Winefride approached a priest, by the holy well,
and said, I must live as a nun
and take a vestal cell.

A prince of Flintshire sought my hand, by the ancient well,
my calling roused his bloody wrath
around this woodland dell.

Young Caradoc was lost to lust, by the ancient well,
and when I warned my bond was God’s
he screamed of Jezebel.

Cried the priest to Winefride, by the holy well,
I hope you pleaded chastity
and damned the infidel.

I tried, I tried, she sighed with shame, by the holy well,
but in his rage he lopped my head,
the spring is where it fell.

But here you are, dear Winefride, by this holy well,
your headless claim is ludicrous,
so pray, child, kneel and tell.

It seems the Lord has blessed my house, by the holy well,
for here I kneel with all my wealth,
St Bueno’s hands restored my health,
knowing that for all my stealth
I’d die again.

The priest proclaimed, Then they will yell –
a glorious tale of Holywell.


A fine recounting of a strange legend, where the use of playful end-rhyme for such gory subject matter makes for an effective contrast and the repetitive rhythm is nicely altered in the final two stanzas to bring the story to a close. An engaging and interesting poem. --Lee Nash

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