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Lay for the Day
28th December

The feast of the Holy Innocents – the children massacred by Herod in the hope of exterminating that King of the Jews whose birth had been foretold to him.


I cannot think you chose to be adored
With babies impaled on a sword,
Though like better-chosen presents
Those also announced your infant presence.

Unbelievers know you didn’t relish
Burnt, broken offerings, hellish
Rites for the choking heretics’
Conversion into meat by fanatics.

Who ventured, then, to make a blessed name cursed?
What deep returned the words reversed?
Finding the height unscalable,
Who’d poison to his praise each syllable?

The tortured alone are like one tortured,
No matter in what faith nurtured.
When the tormentor wears a cross,
All Hell rejoices in Jesus’s loss.

John Gibbens
from Church of Thorns


The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar