Cowards Castle Nigel Goodwin, one of the best modern Christian poets.
This page was last updated by Bernard Preston on 6 December, 2018.
The first time I went to Church was a Sunday morning,
From what I've heard I'd likely find I'd spend the whole time yawning.
At 18 years of age or so I thought I knew it all,
My hair was long, my jeans were tight,
I loved a knife or bottle fight,
Provided mates stood left and right
and those we fought were small.
My mates and me we'd never been, so off to Church we filed,
We walked inside 'bout three abreast, straight down the middle aisle.
Some of us were smoking fags and others sucking sherberts.
We sat in what they called a pew,
then looked around to see just who would come inside.
Here, let me tell you,
they looked a load of Herberts.
The row behind was full of dames, you shoulda seen their looks.
Then one old dear gave me a smile and offered me some books.
We opened them, we passed them round,
Here you should have seen the words
all set out like poetry is.
The words fair put us in a tizz and Fred said through his lemon fizz:
"These books are for the birds."
"Shhhh, tut, tut, tut," one old lady says,
With tuts the place did buzz.
The row behind was full of dames you should have seen their looks.
Sam stood and shouted, "Oh, do belt up, you make more noise than us."
We look around the building and eeh it really was revealing.
Sam says, "Here mates, get the score,
there ain't a carpet on the floor.
See the rafters, they're so poor
they can't afford a ceiling.
Can't afford electric either, using candles everywhere.
Coloured windows like me grans at the bottom of her stair."
"Shut your face." I said to Sammy. "I'm for listening, so is Ron."
From the left without a noise,
came a line of little boys.
Sammy said in his loudest voice, "Cor, they've all got nighties on."
Then came blokes with cloaks and banners.
"Here, look at that one, he must be queer.
Then they dare condemn us rockers for the way we choose our gear."
Round the Church we watched them marching,
like a circus out on hire.
Sammy says, "Here, I can't make out what this is."
Holy smoke and then he hisses,
"Where's the Holy water:
Mrs Vicar's handbag's caught on fire."
If looks could kill we'd all have dropped,
but, well, they can't, I glad to say.
And so without a lot of bother everything got under way.
First we all knelt down together.
Sam took his trilby off.
Then the Vicar put up his hand,
seems he wants us all to stand.
"Here, when they going to strike up the band?"
Sam said behind a cough.
"Hark at Vicar in the pulpit, Coward's Castle," muttered Sid.
"Hark he's singing all one tune, mate."
"No, that's praying said our kid."
Well, I mean, I weren't sure
'cos I remember Mum said God's a father.
Yeh, well I don't pray to my old dad,
or call him thee or thou, I'm glad
or he'd think I'd gone raving mad.
It's barmy, so it is,
it just don't make much sense to me what goes on in them places.
I'd understand a little bit if they had happy faces.
They talk of peace, and 'appiness and how the joybells ring.
Yet most of them look bored to bits,
I'd say you load of hypocrites.
Why don't you honestly mean what you sing.
Then there's him what gives the preach. The Vicar, what's his name,
the hymns and prayers and what he says, they're all about the same.
We come to Church, we listen hard, but what about the chat?
He talks of sinking, shifting sand,
and words like wrath and reprimand.
Here, look mate we just don't understand
a language quite like that.
I'm used to chatting to me mates in words what have a meanin'
but that there Church it's just about the oddest place I've been in.
If people want that nonsense, well, then let them, that's okay,
But let me tell you what I feel.
I feel we need a bloke who'll learn a deal
of what it takes to make it real,
what Jesus had to say.
It seems like most religious folks don't care when we're in need.
They hand us bits of paper in a language we can't read.
They sits inside their Church with nothing in their hearts.
Some try to help but bring despair,
'cos they have nothing real to share.
I think these folk will still be there
when Armageddon starts.
My Mum once said,
"Son, Jesus came to help young men like you."
Jesus came so long ago.
So is this really true,
is there no-one listening now,
who could tell me if there's hope right now?
Is Christ a myth or madman's whim?
Some say that He can cure our sin.
Is there's a way to contact Him,
or must I die not knowing how.
Listen, I only went to Church to see if they could offer hope,
but everything what happened there was way outside my scope.
I'm like a beggar wanting something real,
but they just smiled, they let me pass.
I pleaded for a little cheer,
they all pretended not to hear.
I get the message loud and clear.
That Church is middle class.