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Lay for the Day
8th May

Edward Gibbon, the historian of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, was born on 27th April 1737 in Putney, Surrey. After Britain adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1752, he took to celebrating his birthday on 8th May.
From the book of Praises:

70. Of History

In the small hours of a century,
the hours of intrigue, compromise,
the spring of the shy, stubborn dogrose,
the clear July of fragile poppies
ashame our mud and frost from the page.

Where hindsight rolls its prospect of rise
and decline, we can’t walk anyway.
There we’re yet to be born; before us
on the perplexed horizon, we’re dead.
The wind buckles the map in our hands

that handled the tiller or fingered
the trigger. History’s bearing down
like the thunderbird: some see the brows
or wings, and some the jabberwock beak
with a mixed metaphor’s saw-toothed edge.


John Gibbens
from Collected Poems


The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar