Who’s the great sinner? He, who gave the power
And will to sin, and knew both would be used.
Who’s the great sinner? He, to whose sole will
Sinner and sin alike owe their existence.
Who’s the great sinner? He, who, being Omniscient,
Foresees all sins, and, being Omnipotent,
Can, if he please, prevent them and does not —
Nay, not alone does not, but punishes;
And — one tic farther still, one farther tic
Incredible — when punishment’s no use.
James Henry (1798–1876) was an Irish poet who maintained a quiet but intense war with God and organized religion throughout his life. Perhaps better known as a Latin scholar — especially in regards to the poet Virgil’s works — Henry was also a physician who, despite his animosity towards Christianity, had a successful career in Dublin. His work was rediscovered by British literary scholar Christopher Hicks, who edited Selected Works of James Henry (2002, Lilliput Press, Dublin).