Today’s poem was a difficult one to write. Most of the time, I manage to find some way of approaching whatever topic, event or person the liturgical calendar brings up for me that day. Occasionally, however, I refuse to write a poem because of fundamental disagreement with what has been included for that particular day. Today was almost one of those days. However, I have been able in the end to write a poem about Charles I, the king of England executed by the Puritans in the British Civil War, although I do not agree with the Prayer Book’s description of Charles as a “martyr”. Those disagreements aside, I have made the most of the story of Charles’ death and the reasons for it to shape a poem that reflects my thinking on the subject.
Of Tyrants and Worthy Deaths (For Charles I, King of England)
The church is heaving at the seams,
The king declares his rights,
The knights are taxed to pay the king
And Parliament’s cast to silence.
Churchmen fight with churchmen who
Design their buildings other ways,
And Gospel truth is set against
This or that tradition.
And earnest men on either side
Yell and do not listen,
While Cromwell takes the tyrant’s head
And makes himself a tyrant.
O God – was this the way You planned
Your bride, Your priestly nation
To show itself before the world
Was this Your hope, Your vision?
Preach, O God, to our dead bones;
Break through all our folly.
King Jesus, crowned upon the Cross:
Show us what is holy.