Constantine at Nicea

The gold-encrusted silk dalmatic bends,

As Last Apostle bows to bishops, lends

His welcome to the most unwelcome there,

Arius, who returns a cold imperial stare.

Was it for quarrels such as this that he,

The First Crusader, crossed to victory

Over the vain gods and their worshippers?

He speaks, while Athanasius, restless, stirs;

Then, courteous, listens while iotas fly.

Stupid he is not; Arius may try

Egyptian flatteries, but each falls far.

Had Christ or Arius won him his war?

The thundering words of Athanasius roll

Around him and he feels them in his soul.

Yes, Christ is God, begotten from the first:

Let Arius, the heretic, be cursed.

And now, the Creed proclaimed, the banquets done,

He moves into the great Nicean sun,

Which, flashing from his iron-set diadem,

That Nail the Pope had given him to stem

Christ’s enemies and his, cascades as far

As the world’s end, where all his final titles are.