Lay for the Day 16th
600: Pope Gregory the Great decrees that to say God bless you
is the appropriate response to a sneeze. Also that the sign of the cross
should be made over the mouth of one who yawns. The plague was raging
in Rome at the time, and fits of sneezing and yawning were symptoms of
England, theres many an atheist and Protestant who still obeys the
papal fiat with a Bless you! This seems fitting, since it
was the same pope, St Gregory, who is said to have seen some fair-haired
captives in the Roman slave-market and asked what tribe they belonged
to. When he was told they were Angles, he punned Non anglii, sed
angeli Not Angles but angels and sent St Augustine
to convert them to Christianity.
the book of Praises.
Of the Nose
tower, spirit channel,
face is arranged around you
like a feudal hamlet round its castle.
most difficult aspect,
who keep the voices secret
resonance are therefore the hearts trumpet.
lend the deep eyes direction
overtop the smiling gorge,
abrupt, broad-shouldered, fissured or pitted
pumice, like snow or basalt
rufous or yellow as dawn;
on whom the tears Niagaras, trembling,
the air around with silence;
whose steamy caverns, distent,
erupts the surplus volcanic laughter;
all, of the pagan sneeze,
at whose outrush come forfending blessings.
the hill of spices, one
the scent molecules are
given audience as the day is long.
Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar