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I

­Who’s the great sinner? He, who gave the power

And will to sin, and knew both would be ­used.

II

­Who’s the great sinner? He, to whose sole will

Sinner and sin alike owe their ­existence.

III

­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).

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