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LAMBETH LYRIC, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

"Lambeth Lyric" by Lionel Pigot Johnson is a satirical poem that delves into the subject of religious debate and doctrinal changes, specifically targeting the bishops at the Lambeth Conference. The poem playfully critiques the process of religious debate and the reevaluation of established creeds, providing a glimpse into Johnson's views on religious hierarchy and doctrine.

"Lambeth Lyric" presents a whimsical depiction of bishops gathered at Lambeth, engaged in debate over religious creeds. Through satire and humor, Johnson questions the seriousness and sincerity of these debates, and the idea of revising beliefs considered sacred.

Theme Analysis:

The major themes include religious bureaucracy, the rigidity of belief systems, and the juxtaposition of sacred and mundane. Johnson takes a critical stance on the bishops' seemingly trivial approach to profound spiritual matters.


The poem likely refers to one of the Lambeth Conferences, meetings held in Lambeth Palace by bishops of the Anglican Communion. Johnson's satire offers insight into his perspectives on religious authority and the flexibility of dogma.


The Lambeth Conferences served as important gatherings to discuss theological and administrative issues within the church. Johnson's satire emphasizes the seemingly trivial nature of the debates, juxtaposed against the gravity of the subjects under discussion.


The poem describes the appearance and demeanor of the bishops, their long debates, and their decision to refer the revision of the Nicene and Athanasian creeds to a select committee. This decision, portrayed humorously, highlights the incongruity between the gravity of the creeds and the casual handling of their revision.

Poetic Devices:

  • Satire: Johnson employs satire to emphasize the disconnect between the bishops' appearance and their handling of serious theological matters.

  • Imagery: The depiction of the bishops' clothing and accessories paints a vivid picture of the scene.

  • Rhyme and Rhythm: The poem follows a simple rhyming scheme and rhythm, enhancing the playful tone.


"Lambeth Lyric" offers a whimsical yet pointed critique of religious bureaucracy, highlighting the contrast between the sacred nature of religious creeds and the mundane approach to their revision. Johnson's use of satire, imagery, and structure create a vivid picture of the scene and emphasize the incongruity of the situation. The poem's humor and irreverence serve as a reminder of the potential pitfalls of rigid religious hierarchy and the danger of reducing profound spiritual matters to mere debate and procedure. In its brevity and wit, "Lambeth Lyric" encourages readers to reflect on the nature of belief and the complex relationship between doctrine and human interpretation.

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