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Lay for the Day
17th July

The feast of St Alexis, the patron saint of beggars. His legend was very popular in the Middle Ages.
He was said to be the son of wealthy Christian Romans, who arranged a marriage for him with an upper-class bride. He went through with the marrriage, but by arrangement with his wife left home on the wedding night to take up the life of a wandering ascetic. Near a shrine in Edessa, in Syria (now Urfa in the far south of Turkey) he gained a reputation for holiness, until he fled his own popularity and returned to Rome.
His parents took the beggar in without knowing who he was, out of Christian charity. He lived under their stairs for 17 years, till he died. A document found on his corpse revealed his identity, which was also attested by voices from heaven and miracles.
I donít know what happened to poor Mrs Alexis, who seems to have got the rough end of the deal. Maybe she was happy as a wealthy married widow.

Cardboard Boxer

London’s got no problems, mother.
London’s full of friends.
They’re all nice to one another
and over backwards everybody bends.
It’s enough to warm your heart.
(I wish that I could warm my feet.)

I’ve almost got a job now, mother,
and it’s a piece of cake.
Although I’ll do it any weather,
guess how much I make.
People here spare no expense.
(Can you spare us twenty pence?)

The garden’s looking lovely, mother,
full of roses and carnations.
I got this place for next to nothing
and it’s handy for the station.
With love from your loving son, Martin.
(Mother, I’m not beaten.
You know I
won’t be beat.)


Words and music by The Children


The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar