Sunday, 14 January 2018

The Bicentenary of St John's Part 1

In 2018 the church I attend, St John the Evangelist, Princes Street, Edinburgh, is enjoying its 200th anniversary. I am using my satirical column in the church magazine, "Cornerstone", to celebrate the fact in verse. I hope this will be the first canto of half a dozen. 

"What is the matter with telling the truth with a smile?" Desiderius Eramus to Martin Dorp, 1515 (Dorp had been complaining that the "Praise of Folly" was too frivolous)

                Think 1818. George III was king
                And Europe was awash with creativity.
                “Heart of Midlothian” was Scott’s new thing;
                The Marx couple celebrated Karl’s nativity;
                Gruber wrote “Stille Nacht for us to sing.
                The list o'erwhelms a heart of sensitivity.
                     It's far too long! In fact it might be speedier
                     To look the whole lot up in Wikipedia.

                And, don’t forget, this year did Mary Shelley
                Conceive her famous Doctor Frankenstein.
                (I say “conceive”. He was not in her belly,
                Rather her fecund fantasy divine.)
    I guess the Shelley household was a melée
    Of quill, ink, paper – all the author’s line.
         And this, in fact, was rather handy as
         Her Percy Bysshe was writing “Ozymandias”.

    But what about the Athens of the North,
    Then slithering from off its lofty perch,
    Street by new street towards the Firth of Forth?
    The old crown jewels were found after a search
                (That Scott again) and many a man of worth
                Thought the New Town should have another church.
                      So, just as Byron started on “Don Juan”
                     Why, Daniel Sandford thought he’d build a new one.

                These lines may make a nest for some church mice,
                Or act on my friend Dorp like an emetic,
                But “Cornerstone” is free, so there’s no price;
                I trust my readers to be sympathetic.
                A bicentenary doesn’t happen twice
                So it seems right to pen some sort of epic.
                      And what could better suit a bold romancer
                     Than write his verse in a Byronic stanza?

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