On the Birthday of a Forgotten Poet

(For Chidiock Tichborne, executed on September 20, 1585, for his attempt to kill Queen Elizabeth)

You are known to the unknown hermit — the stone,
the mouth of the dumb, the lonely and the cursed.
The stone crowned you as the poet laureate.
O your truest admirer is the stone,
human as the shade of the wise apple tree.
All winds celebrate your four-hundredth birthday,
O cherub-eyed Satan hating only hate.
You are read by the trapped mouse, praised by the doomed
on their way to meet the law-loving hangman.
You will be ever known to every lover
of kind death, the hell-bound will ever see you
handsome as darkness before there were gallows.
God, weary of his own everlasting life,
comes to rest in your wondrous solitude,
in the true eternity untouched by man.