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SERMON ON THE MOUNT

The plaque has been placed high onto the front wall

of a terraced house in the street next to ours –

and is, in effect, a terracotta tile,

roughly a foot-and-a half by a foot,

with a raised border, and lettering

and numerals probably executed

by a gravestone mason, who maybe lived there.

The date inscribed is 1872 –

the words, first in English and then in Welsh,

‘Blessed are the meek. Matthew V.v’.

 

When the railways came in the 1850s

bringing the London-Holyhead line,

the station became an important one.

Chester was a garrison city,

and Ireland always needed pacifying.

Where we live now was developed

to house the families of working class

skilled men and lower middle class clerks

in exclusively rented accommodation,

which makes the plaque a surprise: not its faith,

nor its grave taste, nor its erudition –

the railway junction attracted migrants

over the border from the poverty

of North East Wales – but that mere tenants

should have had the courage to declare their right

to a place in the world. That, on reflection,

was perhaps the point of the Beatitudes,

and whoever it was who crafted them.

 

 

 

© Copyright David Selzer
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