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Lay for the Day 16th October

The feast day of St Gall, who is patron saint of geese, of poultry generally, and also of all birds (along with St Francis of Assisi – see 3rd and 4th October). I don't know why this is. Gall was an Irish monk and hermit of the seventh century. He travelled to Gaul and became one of the most important figures in the conversion of Switzerland. Like other early Celtic saints, he had an affinity with wild animals – in particular he is said to have once asked a bear to collect firewood for his followers. Perhaps geese were particularly prone to attacks by bears, and Gall’s control of a bear led to him becoming a protector of poultry? It’s a guess.

Philosophers of the Window part 3


Are these the poets,
with monochrome crests to hoist
and squinting voices?

Like the prophets, soon
and gone, who bear between their
spring-blue wrists the rose

of a hardly-dawn,
briefly, through leafless branches,
brightest crows attend.



Be not still,
say the little birdist monks
in tracksuit-
flashy, blue, white and yellow,
black-zipped robes,
pointy tonsure, painted eyes,
’cause life’s short,
as they breakdance to the nuts.
Pure karma
makes their voices almost in-
high and all their deep dicta
out of shot
of plodding woulds, sodden oughts.
Small is big…
nor cease ye… neither falter…
Ringing bits
of their exhortations skirl
like pence scat-
tering across the wavelengths.
All spins: just
don’t stay too long on one wheel.

John Gibbens
from Falling Down

The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar