St. Hugh and the Swan (For Hugh of Lincoln, Bishop)

When King Henry sought to absolve his guilt
Planting a Carthusian order –
A penance, they say, for killing a priest
Who had changed from a friend to a thorn –

Hugh came across from Avalon to
Lead the new order he’d placed there,
No less a scourge to Henry’s proud will,
Yet winning him with his blunt talking.

A challenge to kings – to King John, like death’s stench –
He scorned gold’s temptation, and did not relent:
A friend to the helpless; a thorn in the side
Of the powerful few; a voice for God’s truth.

Protected, they say, at night by a swan
Whom he took as his friend and companion,
Hugh knew well how the righteous sleep safe
While kings tossed and turned in their castles.

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