Edmund Griffiths  

E d m u n d   G r i f f i t h s

Fifth century

Out to his grave we carry
a subtle theologian,
one whose voice was lifted
nasal in oecumenical councils

and the chapel of the General Staff.
Even condemned he refused
to qualify his opinions:
he maintained a venomous correspondence,

and blood was spilt for his doctrine
in riots in the southern cities.
Certainly he was not a Eutychian,
though careless observers said so—

his views were more devious than theirs,
difficult for his followers to grasp,
and one by one he discovered
obscure but fatal errors

to exclude his remaining friends.
(It is not to be thought that he did so,
knowing they wouldn’t renounce him,
to spare them the Committee’s attentions.)

At the last only we, his jailers,
were there to hear those notorious
sneering rebuttals; and perhaps
we were also the only ones

who saw him in the garden alone,
the author of the Definitions,
watching birds on the grass
and singing tunelessly to himself.

Now he will never become
a sainted Father of the Church.
Now his name will never
be given to peasants’ children

in the dusty valleys of Thrace,
or whispered at anxious moments
during squalls off the Libyan coast.
And now to his grave we carry

this subtle theologian:
possibly, when all are judged,
his teaching will prove to have been orthodox
and he alone will be saved.