A botanist preserving precious seed
of fading species, victim of some bight,
the college now. The threat remains the same,
an ever-shifting but familiar fight:
we bid our Caesars shut the church’s mouth,
compel the knee to Moloch – just the once.
Be still, small voice within, let us be free!
Leviathan, for now, can help us run.
Run swift and heedless from the old hard truths:
that in our pomps we are but dust and earth,
and in our depths that penitence alone
will bring us through the fire to rebirth;
that we are not the makers of ourselves,
Prometheans unbound, each one complete,
but weak and cruel and foolish all at oncetireless in the art of self-deceit.
(This is one of a pair of poems inspired by a visit to the Venerable English College in Rome for the diaconal ordination of a friend some years ago. See the first here)