Week 353: Indifference, by G.A. Studdert Kennedy

Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy (1883-1929) was an Anglican priest who served in the trenches as a chaplain during the First World War, and was known as Woodbine Willie from his practice of distributing cigarettes along with spiritual comfort to the troops. I suppose you would call Studdert Kennedy a skilled versifier rather than a poet, and yet it seems to me that this poem makes a point that you don’t need to be a believer to find interesting, and makes it quite clearly and movingly.


When Jesus came to Golgotha they hanged Him on a tree,
They drave great nails through hands and feet, and made a Calvary;
They crowned Him with a crown of thorns, red were His wounds and deep,
For those were crude and cruel days, and human flesh was cheap.

When Jesus came to Birmingham they simply passed Him by,
They never hurt a hair of Him, they only let Him die;
For men had grown more tender, and they would not give Him pain,
They only just passed down the street, and left Him in the rain.

Still Jesus cried, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do,”
And still it rained the winter rain that drenched Him through and through;
The crowds went home and left the streets without a soul to see,
And Jesus crouched against a wall and cried for Calvary.

G.A. Studdert Kennedy

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