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ANTHOLOGY OF MASSACHUSETTS POETS (37)

2006-08-28 19:24

    SAINT COLUMBKILLE

    COLUMBKILLE! Saint Columbkille! You naughty man, Saint Columbkille! Why did you Finnian's Psalter take And secretly a copy make? You know 'twas such a naughty thing For one descended from a king To lock himself into a cell, 'Twas far from right,-you knew it well,And copy Finnian's Psalter through, Against his will as well you knew. And then to think a common bird Should feel such shame, that when he heard The breathing spy outside your door, And felt your sainthood was no more, Should through the crack attack the spy, And in a rage pluck out his eye, As if that saintly Irish crane Would hide from all your Saintship's stain. I grieve to think that you did add Sin unto sin; it is too bad. For Finnian could not you persuade To yield the copy that you made, Until the King in his behalf Ruled-"To each cow belongs her calf": And then you grew so mad you swore On Erin's face you'd look no more. And crossed the sea the Picts to save, Because you so did misbehave To dear Saint Finnian: faith, 'twas ill For you to act so, Columbkille! A saint you were no doubt, no doubt! What pity 'twas you were found out! We know an angel (snob or fool?)

    To Kiaran showed a common rule, An axe, an auger, and a saw, And told that saint it was the law Of Heaven that Columbkille should be Far, far above such saints as he; For Columbkille contemned a crown, While he these homely tools laid down, To serve the Lord, and that the Lord To each would give his due reward. I wonder if that angel knew That Christ these tools had laid down too. O Columbkille! O Columbkille! A saint like you must have his will, But for myself I'd rather be The common sinner that you see Than make a crane ashamed of me, And angels talk such idiocy.

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