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Poetry. NEED-FIRE is a sequence of letters and monologues from people connected with double monasteries in seventh-century England. The dominant voices are those of Hild, her kinswoman and successor Aelfflaed, and Ely’s abbess Etheldreda. Little is known of these women; the poems begin where history leaves off.
“From the moment of Hild’s (Abbess of Whiby) birth to years after her death, NEED-FIRE charts the journey of one woman’s extraordinary life. It never stumbles in its commitment to the story. In one poem a sparrow flies through a house ‘So with the life of man / of what goes before / of what comes after.’ Blood, water, fire, birds, beds, hunger, cold—the words burn like the shepherd’s fires, incantations against dark and despair, the new G-d coming to replace the old.”—Liz Rosenberg