Hunting holy words with glee,
indexing them systematically,
feather quill scrawled hurriedly,
almost autistic, evangelical energy
passionate, prophetic, lexicon pursuit.
By early morning candle light,
proofreading pre-print newspapers,
slept exhausted until dawn,
birdsong summoned to pious prayers.
Wondrous words need compiling,
digging through biblical dramas;
verbal quarry a one-time Sabbath game,
“every man a scriptural scholar”.
Abjectly neglected, your bookshop’s
sparsely stocked shelves unattractive;
your bloodshot eyes frightened off many,
your mad muttering many dismayed.
Asylum imprisoned, until night escape
over wall, hobbling home wearing one shoe.
What surreal contrast from an earlier
introductory audience with Queen Caroline!
Never pre-destined, “Albion’s Corrector”
your manifesto meaninglessly declaimed,
elected only for one gallows rope rescue.
Thrice-spurned by mocking amours
– unloved but for platonic prostitute
whom you rescued from sexual slavery;
she discovered you dead with blessed Book;
What an epitaph for an earnest autodidact!
Pious people still mine meaning from
your elephantine small-print treasure,
magisterial, your gargantuan concordance.
Cruden (1701 – 1770) compiled his Concordance, first ever index of key words in the Bible. He was proofreader and publisher, and also self-styled Corrector of the nation’s morals.