The lions won the battle but the martyrs won the war.
There was screaming in the bleachers when they read the final score
There were hymns and and chants and thumbs turned down, the ads were just a bore,
The lions were triumphant and the martyrs turned to gore.
Nero was on the fiddle and Domitian lost his rag
Once you throw them to the lions you assume its in the bag
They may stand and sing defiance, they may preach and quote and nag,
And the martyrs all got eaten, but they made the lions gag.
The cheerleaders turned cartwheels when the lion raised his claw
And the punters bought their hot-dogs and complained that they were raw,
And they drank thin wine and cheered (they were hoping for a draw,)
But the score was twenty–zero when they heard the lions roar.
There’s smooth sand in the arena, waiting for the scheduled fight
There is bread outside the circus, every morning, every night
There are bears and gladiators, and the sun is shining bright
And the lions ate the martyrs, but the martyrs saw the light.
While the priest and silent vestal spread the entrails out once more
And the sacrifice is steaming on the altar by the shore
You would swear it couldn’t happen, by the gods we all adore:
For the lions won the battle but the martyrs won the war!
With crusade and inquisition, for a thousand years they linked
Lions with their persecution, had it graven, had it inked,
Tore down all the colosseums, I think God in heaven blinked
When the victory of martyrs made the lions go extinct.
With their golden manes a-tossing in the mighty days of yore
In their pride they came out prancing, strong of shoulder, strong of jaw,
But they died in countless thousands, murdered under force of law:
Yes, the lions won the battle, but the martyrs won the war.
8th February 2011