Embroidered history


So take a brightly coloured strand
and thread it through the eye,
then pierce the cloth to draw it on
and watch the story grow.

With English cloth and English yarn
in colours wrung from life,
a banner stitched in Canterbury
relates the victor’s tale.

Stem stitches draw the story out,
long threads laid side by side
as couching stitches firmly set
embroidered history down.

Defeated women heads bowed down,
their fingers needle pricked
mark cloth beneath triumphant forms
with blood of harrowed hearts.


I am aware that there are various theories concerning the making of the Bayeux Tapestry whether it was La Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde, William’s wife, or commissioned by his half-brother, Bishop Odo. Some think (the French) that it was made in Normandy but the consensus is that it was made by English embroiderers either at Winchester or Canterbury. It is not a tapestry but an embroidery using only two stitches, stem stitch to create the outline and couch or laid work to fill it in.
The image used is from the Battle of Hastings section of the tapestry and is by Dan Khoel and distributed under a CC BY-SA 3.0 licence, sourced from WikiCommons

©Catherine Meyrick.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Catherine Meyrick and https://catherinemeyrick.com/ with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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