Sunt Leones

By Stevie Smith 1902–1971 Stevie Smith
The lions who ate the Christians on the sands of the arena
By indulging native appetites played what has now been seen a   
Not entirely negligible part
In consolidating at the very start
The position of the Early Christian Church.
Initiatory rites are always bloody
And the lions, it appears
From contemporary art, made a study
Of dyeing Coliseum sands a ruddy
Liturgically sacrificial hue
And if the Christians felt a little blue—
Well people being eaten often do.
Theirs was the death, and theirs the crown undying,
A state of things which must be satisfying.
My point which up to this has been obscured
is that it was the lions who procured
By chewing up blood gristle flesh and bone
The martyrdoms on which the Church has grown.
I only write this poem because I thought it rather looked   
As if the part the lions played was being overlooked.
By lions’ jaws great benefits and blessings were begotten   
And so our debt to Lionhood must never be forgotten.

Stevie Smith, “Sunt Leones” from New Selected Poems. Copyright © 1972 by Stevie Smith. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: The New Selected Poems of Stevie Smith (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1988)

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Poet Stevie Smith 1902–1971

POET’S REGION England

Subjects Humor & Satire, Christianity, Social Commentaries, Religion

Poetic Terms Couplet

 Stevie  Smith

Biography

Calling Stevie Smith's Not Waving but Drowning "the best collection of new poems to appear in 1957," Poetry contributor David Wright observed that "as one of the most original women poets now writing [Stevie Smith] seems to have missed most of the public accolades bestowed by critics and anthologists. One reason may be that not only does she belong to no 'school'—whether real or invented as they usually are—but her work is so . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Humor & Satire, Christianity, Social Commentaries, Religion

POET’S REGION England

Poetic Terms Couplet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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