Indifference: G. A. Studdert Kennedy

by Anna Blanch on April 8, 2010


G. A. Studdert Kennedy

1When Jesus came to Golgotha they hanged Him on a tree,
2They drave great nails through hands and feet, and made a Calvary;
3They crowned Him with a crown of thorns, red were His wounds and deep,
4For those were crude and cruel days, and human flesh was cheap.
5When Jesus came to Birmingham they simply passed Him by,
6They never hurt a hair of Him, they only let Him die;
7For men had grown more tender, and they would not give Him pain,
8They only just passed down the street, and left Him in the rain.
9Still Jesus cried, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do,”
10And still it rained the wintry rain that drenched Him through and through;
11The crowds went home and left the streets without a soul to see,
12And Jesus crouched against a wall and cried for Calvary.

This is a poem from around 1927 and written by British poet and War veteran, Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy. Over the years this poem has reappeared with different cities taking the place of Birmingham. It is an interesting “what if” response to Jesus in a modern context. I also believe that Studdert Kennedy is drawing upon a tradition of these kinds of poems that are also seen in the ouevres of George MacDonald and E.Nesbit (from the late 19th c.) among others.

Studdert Kennedy was dducated at Leeds Grammar School and Trinity College, Dublin, graduating in classics and divinity in 1904. The seventh of nine children and born in Leeds on 27th June, 1883, his parents were Jeanette Anketell and William Studdert Kennedy, the vicar of St Mary’s Quarry Hill, Leeds.

Image: Anna M. Blanch 2010
Source: G. A. Studdert Kennedy, Rhymes (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1929): 43. 1929 (7) 3853 Cambridge University Library. (also The Unutterable Beauty (1927))

Anna Blanch is founder of Goannatree, and a PhD student in the Institute of Theology, Imagination, and the Arts at St Mary’s College, University of St Andrews, Scotland.

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