Bede. born 672/3 – died 735

Your Majesty, when we compare the present life of man on earth with that time of which we have no knowledge, it seems to me like the flight of a single sparrow through the banqueting-hall where you are sitting at dinner on a winter’s day with your thanes (servants) and counsellors. In the midst there is a comforting fire to warm the hall; outside the storms of winter rain or snow are raging. The sparrow flies swiftly in through one door of the hall, and out through another. While he is inside, he is safe safe from the winter storms, but after a few moments of comfort, he vanishes from sight into the wintry world from which he came. Even so, man appears on earth for a little while; but of what went before this life or of what follows, we know nothing. Therefore, if this new teaching has brought any more certain knowledge it seems only right that we should follow it.

A passage from a Northumbrian chief-man as told by Bede the historian.

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