St. Telemachus and the NFL concussion lawsuit

Dr. Weeks’ Comment:   As the NFL considers ways to reduce injuries, let’s look within. This poem by Alfred Lord Tenneyson directs  us the crux of the issue.


A poem by Alfred Tennyson  

to be shared with the owners of the NFL teams…

Had the fierce ashes of some fiery peak

Been hurl’d so high they ranged about the globe?

For day by day, thro’ many a blood-red eve,

In that four-hundredth summer after Christ,

The wrathful sunset glared against a cross

Rear’d on the tumbled ruins of an old fane

No longer sacred to the Sun, and flamed

On one huge slope beyond, where in his cave

The man, whose pious hand had built the cross,

A man who never changed a word with men,

Fasted and pray’d, Telemachus the Saint.

Eve after eve that haggard anchorite

Would haunt the desolated fane, and there

Gaze at the ruin, often mutter low

“Vicisti Galilae” louder again,

Spurning a shatter’d fragment of the God,

“Vicisti Galilae!” but when now

Bathed in that lurid crimson ask’d  “Is earth

On fire to the West? or is the Demon-god

Wroth at his fall?” and heard an answer  “Wake

Thou deedless dreamer, lazying out a life

Of self-suppression, not of selfless love.”

And once a flight of shadowy fighters crost

The disk, and once, he thought, a shape with wings

Came sweeping by him, and pointed to the West,

And at his ear he heard a whisper ”Rome!”

And in his heart he cried  “The call of God!”

And call’d arose, and, slowly plunging down

Thro’ that disastrous glory, set his face

By waste and field and town of alien tongue,

Following a hundred sunsets, and the sphere

Of westward-wheeling stars; and every dawn

Struck from him his own shadow on to Rome.

Foot-sore, way-worn, at length he touch’d his goal,

The Christian city. All her splendour fail’d

To lure those eyes that only yearn’d to see,

Fleeting betwixt her column’d palace-walls,

The shape with wings. Anon there past a crowd

With shameless laughter, Pagan oath, and jest,

Hard Romans brawling of their monstrous games;

He, all but deaf thro’ age and weariness,

And muttering to himself  “The call of God”

And borne along by that full stream of men,

Like some old wreck on some indrawing sea,

Gain’d their huge Colosseum.

The caged beast yell’d, as he yell’d of yore

for Christian blood.

Three slaves were trailing a dead lion away,

One, a dead man. He stumbled in, and sat

Blinded; but when the momentary gloom,

Made by the noonday blaze without, had left

His aged eyes, he raised them, and beheld

A blood-red awning waver overhead,

The dust send up a steam of human blood,

The gladiators moving toward their fight,

And eighty thousand Christian faces watch

Man murder man.

A sudden strength from heaven,

As some great shock may wake a palsied limb,

Turn’d him again to boy, for up he sprang,

And glided lightly down the stairs, and o’er

The barrier that divided beast from man

Slipt, and ran on, and flung himself between

The gladiatorial swords, and call’d  “Forbear

In the great name of Him who died for men,

Christ Jesus!” For one moment afterward

A silence follow’d as of death, and then

A hiss as from a wilderness of snakes,

Then one deep roar as of a breaking sea,

And then a shower of stones that stoned him dead,

And then once more a silence as of death.

His dream became a deed that woke the world,

For while the frantic rabble in half-amaze

Stared at him dead, thro’ all the nobler hearts

In that vast Oval ran a shudder of shame.

The Baths, the Forum gabbled of his death,

And preachers linger’d o’er his dying words,

Which would not die, but echo’d on to reach

Honorius, till he heard them, and decreed

That Rome no more should wallow in this old lust

Of Paganism, and make her festal hour

Dark with the blood of man who murder’d man.


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