Alban Yields

(Tomorrow is actually the day in which the Anglican Church remembers St. Alban, Britain’s first martyr. I have written his poem today, however, knowing I will not have time for it tomorrow.)

Alban Yields
Albanum egregium fæcunda Britannia profert.
Fruitful Britain holy Alban yields.
(Venantius Fortunatus, quoted by Bede, trans. William Hurst)
The stream flowed smoothly the day he died;
Bede says it parted at his approach
And made the way for him to pass
Through and climb a nearby hill,
A pleasant place flecked with flowers,
And flat and still, like the calm sea.
And for that time, within the calm,
The soldier, there to take his life,
Saw something in his sturdy step,
His willingness to give his life,
That made him bow and yield with him.
The stream resumed its natural course,
Making way for Alban’s death.
And yet the soldier who had bowed
Would not regress into the flow.
And so they both that day gave up
Their lives into the stream’s swift flow.
The Roman tide was still against them;
(It was not hard that day to find
Another ready, willing soldier.)
And yet the stream had shown that day
That One controlled the tides who would
Crown Alban and let him one day
Wash in and drink the streams of life.

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