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New Kid on the Block

Like many of us, the 19th-century poet Matthew Arnold was happy that the rigorists lost the battle for the early Church — so that we sinners could have a second chance. And a third…

The Good Shepherd with the Kid

By Matthew Arnold

HE SAVES the sheep, the goats he doth not save! :
So rang Tertullian’s sentence, on the side
Of that unpitying Phrygian sect which cried:
‘Him can no fount of fresh forgiveness lave,

‘Who sins, once wash’d by the baptismal wave!’
So spake the fierce Tertullian. But she sigh’d,
The infant Church; of love she felt the tide
Stream on her from her Lord’s yet recent grave.

And then she smiled, and in the Catacombs,
With eye suffused but heart inspired true,
On those walls subterranean, where she hid

Her head in ignominy, death, and tombs,
She her Good Shepherd’s hasty image drew;
And on his shoulders, not a lamb, a kid.