Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > Anthology of Massachusetts Poets
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. (1878–1962).  Anthology of Massachusetts Poets.  1922.
 
Saint Columbkille
 
E. J. V. Huiginn
 
 
COLUMBKILLE! Saint Columbkille!
You naughty man, Saint Columbkille!
Why did you Finnian’s Psalter take
And secretly a copy make?
You know ’twas such a naughty thing        5
For one descended from a king
To lock himself into a cell,
’Twas far from right,—you knew it well,—
And copy Finnian’s Psalter through,
Against his will as well you knew.        10
And then to think a common bird
Should feel such shame, that when he heard
The breathing spy outside your door,
And felt your sainthood was no more,
Should through the crack attack the spy,        15
And in a rage pluck out his eye,
As if that saintly Irish crane
Would hide from all your Saintship’s stain.
I grieve to think that you did add
Sin unto sin; it is too bad.        20
For Finnian could not you persuade
To yield the copy that you made,
Until the King in his behalf
Ruled—“To each cow belongs her calf”:
And then you grew so mad you swore        25
On Erin’s face you’d look no more.
And crossed the sea the Picts to save,
Because you so did misbehave
To dear Saint Finnian: faith, ’twas ill
For you to act so, Columbkille!        30
A saint you were no doubt, no doubt!
What pity ’twas you were found out!
We know an angel (snob or fool?)
To Kiaran showed a common rule,
An axe, an auger, and a saw,        35
And told that saint it was the law
Of Heaven that Columbkille should be
Far, far above such saints as he;
For Columbkille contemned a crown,
While he these homely tools laid down,        40
To serve the Lord, and that the Lord
To each would give his due reward.
I wonder if that angel knew
That Christ these tools had laid down too.
O Columbkille! O Columbkille!        45
A saint like you must have his will,
But for myself I’d rather be
The common sinner that you see
Than make a crane ashamed of me,
And angels talk such idiocy.        50
 

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