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OST ORGANISM Commissioned by the fleshandblood campaign, the former Archbishop of Canterbury and Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, was asked to compose a poem, responding to the themes of blood and organ donation. Giving background into how he approached the brief, Dr Williams explains: “I began with two basic pictures: something being implanted and something breaking through what feels like stasis or deadlock. So the natural point of convergence was the idea of a seed dropped, anonymously, disturbing the heaviness of the soil – the heaviness of what you have come to expect, what you have unhappily got used to. A future that begins in the dark, with surgeons as gardeners; and the hardness, the discomfort of welcoming a new life that bristles and stirs painfully inside. But essentially it’s a poem about hope, and about the sort of providential accident of one life being planted in another and making new things possible.”

I have been living under the layers of grain and moisture,

earth in my nostrils and the years ahead sitting like hard pebbles in my gut,

and the hands that get to sift the slack grit, while I sleep fearfully through hours of gardening labours,

pull themselves clear and scrape nails clean

so that I feel the pricking of green points that seek pathways and waking and tomorrow’s work,

pushing out of the seed dropped by some unnamed bird.

‘Host Organism’ and photography inspired by and on behalf of ‘Host Organism’ © Dr Rowan Williams Photography © Jonathan Cherry - Addtional photography © Laura Amy Liderth - Download the poem, photography and video from

fleshandblood is a campaign to mobilise the church to increase the number of blood and organ donors in the UK, a call to recognise a need and respond with an act of generosity. Founded as a partnership between Kore and NHS Blood and Transplant, the campaign aims to raise the profile of donation within the church and encourage donation as a personal gift. It seeks to equip individuals and churches as advocates for donation helping them engage with their family, friends and community.

©2013 KORE

Host Organism  
Host Organism  

A poem by Revd Dr Rowan Williams for the fleshandblood campaign