for the Day 13th
feast of St Hippolytus, an early Roman theologian and martyr.
His name means, in Greek, loose horse, and he is supposed
to have been executed by being torn asunder by wild horses. Through these
associations he became the patron saint of horses.
The village of Ippollits in Hertfordshire takes its name from a church
dedicated to Hippolytus. Sick horses could be led into the church through
the north door and brought to the shrine of the saint to be cured.
the book of Praises:
great bright-harnessed greys
drew the Whitbread drays
mornings past the flats,
driven by men in bowler hats.
long heads bowing, nod-
in time as they trod
hill, their broad shoes
struck with a clangour that subdues
more bold and pleasant
is the feathered hooves battering
tarmac. Neither cowed
vaunting, mild and proud:
death outpace the day
high-stepping horses pass away.
Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar