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Lay for the Day
25th January

The feast of the conversion of St Paul.
From the book of Praises:

48. Of St Paul

Balding, bearded, pugnacious but sad,
with a bead of light rebounding
from the bulging copper dome
of his fertile brow, Paul,
Apostle to the Gentiles,

in the icons’ unphotographic
likeness, looks longingly, bearing
the brunt of more personhood
than most bear in the flesh.
Out of that burnished bulb,

transplanted, burst the hyacinthine
eloquence of the Epistles,
but who in this mournful face
sees the headstrong Samson
redeemed from his blindness?

The man who held the murderers’ coats
while they stoned Stephen, born again
to bring down pagan temples
till the Roman sword fell,
is too much a Moses

again for many who love the Son
of Man – his lines stick in their throats;
who wrote the great love poem,
“Charity vaunteth not”;
whom we quote as saying

“but the Spirit gives life”.


John Gibbens
from Collected Poems

The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar