The poetry prompt for today was 'secret'. After a moment of panic this morning, while I tried to think of how on earth I could come up with anything about that, I found myself thinking about WWII, and all the brave people who hid Jews and Allied airmen. Then, about hiding people in general, and then I remembered one of my favourite historical figures.
Many of the great houses in England have secret spaces hidden in them - sometimes, whole rooms - which were used during the Elizabethan persecutions to hide priests, vestments and Mass things. Many of these priest holes are so cleverly hidden that long-forgotten ones are still being rediscovered to this day. Rather astonishingly, the vast majority of them were designed and single-handedly built by one man. He was a very small, almost dwarvish man, whose true name was unknown to the families that requested the use of his talents - you cannot say they 'employed' him, as he only accept money to cover building costs, and took nothing for himself. He went by the alias of Little John. Thanks to his efforts, countless priest were spared capture and death, and able to continue ministering to their congregations. Little John was eventually caught himself and tortured to make him give up information. He died without giving away anything at all. He is now venerated by is right name - St. Nicholas Owens. This little poem is about him.
He knew well the ways of stone,
And where to hew and where to hide;
Where solid wall had hollow heart,
To bury man and give him life.
In secret dark he carved alone
That sacred things might safe abide.
A little man with dwarvish art,
Saved Faith from hanging and the knife.
And while the poetry challenge is only for a poem a day, and I doubt I shall be this inspired for the duration of the month, another poem came to me while I was working on this one, and I thought it might be good - given the day - to post it as well:
Tonight Thy friend goes Thee to sell,
And with a kiss Thy name to tell.
Then laughs the Devil in his Hell
And Thou art led to pain and death.
So I bless this pain that's comes on me.
May it take some of Thine Own from Thee
And help Thee walk to Calvary
And comfort Thy last breath.