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Another Naylor Sonnet

from A Few Songs Occasioned (2006) by Jon Watts

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James Nayler hadn’t slept for days. He had a letter in his pocket
from George and Margaret Fell. They prayed that he would read in time to stop it.
They eldered him. He would respect them and not Martha Simmons.

It started when James went to London. He had so much success there.
He preached and worked, converting hundreds. No one questioned his welfare.
Then ranters came, interrupting meetings. They said they preferred James’ preaching
to Burrough and Howgill and even George Fox.
Their leader was Martha. James, ask her to stop. They came to the Bull and Mouth Sunday with rocks.
They want to split Quakers with you at the top. Oh god don’t listen to Martha and her flock.

James stopped eating then. He made a decision from an Exeter prison. He would wait for George’s visit.

George came in from the street and James stood three feet below. They spoke in front of people and then George Fox had to go.
And James said –George, let me hug you.-
George said –I’m not bowing down.-
and James said –well, let me kiss you.-
George offered his foot. It was a falling out.

James decided to go on his own
and George went preaching and keeping the meetings afraid of James.

When James came into Bristol he rode upon a horse. The women sang as they went –oh Lord.-
James Nayler hadn’t slept for days, a letter in his pocket from George and Margaret Fell. They prayed, but prayers could not have stopped him.
No Quakers came to see that day James Nayler’s reenactment but Parliament heard otherwise and said that James had blasphemed.
They indicted him, his punishment: three hundred and ten lashes, a red hot iron through James’ tongue and branded B and laughed at.
“God gave me a body and spirit to endure this.”

They tied up his hands. He could barely stand.
Oh james, you’ve gone too far now. Oh james, you’ve fallen down.
You’ve brought our movement with you. You’ve brought the Quakers down.


from A Few Songs Occasioned (2006), released April 25, 2006
vocals and piano by jon watts


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Jon Watts

Quaker songwriter & video maker. Inspired by mountains, deep silences, and love.

Founder QuakerSpeak and Thee Quaker Project.

Clothe Yourself in Righteousness.

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