Paterfamilias

(1976)

"Paterfamilias" is the fifth and final song of Libby Larsen's song cycle Saints Without Tears.

Paterfamilias
by Phyllis McGinley


Of all the Saints who have won their Charter Holy man,
Hero hermit, Martyr, Mystic, Missioner, Sage or Wit,
Saint Thomas More is my favorite.
For he loved these bounties with might and main,
God and his house and his lovely wife Jane,
And four fair children his heart throve on
Margaret, Elizabeth, Cecily and John.


That More was a good man ev'ryone knows,
he sang good verses and wrote good prose
and liked a good caper and liked a good meal
and made a good Master for the Privy seal,
friend to Erasmus he lived a good life,
and he had a good end, and he left a good counsel
for Margaret, Elizabeth, Cecily and John.


Some saints are alien and hard to love
wild as an eagle, strange as a dove,
Too near to heaven for the mind to scan,
but Thomas More was a fam'ly man
husband, courtier, doer, hoper,
who punned in Latin like a Cambridge don
with Margaret, Elizabeth, Cecily and John.


It was less old Henry than Anne Bolyn
hauled him to the Tower and locked him in
and I fear them missed him when he was gone,
Margaret, Elizabeth, Cecily and John.


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