Dorothy L. Sayers is best know as a mystery writer and her character of Lord Peter Wimsey, but she also wrote poetry, essays on theology and did translations of The Song of Roland and much of The Divine Comedy. In the 1930s, she began writing plays, often with deep religious themes. She wrote a series of radio plays for the BBC based on the life of Christ entitled The Man Born to be King.
I discovered the last in the library in college and have re-read and enjoyed it several times. One thing about it, however, that stuck with me is a poem she used to preface the printed edition of her plays. The title of the poem is "The Makers", and I think it has something to say about Republican "I Made That!" boast.
It begins with an Architect, who announces "I am the master of the art" and says that he has concieved a design.
Come now, good craftsman, ply your tradeThe Craftsman allows that he will look at the Architects plan, but insists that he, not the Architect is the master of the craft.
With tool and stone obediently;
Behold the plan that I have made --
I am the master; serve you me."
"It is by me the towers grow tall,The Craftsman claims that he is the master,
I lay the course, I shape and hew;
You make an inky little scrawl,
And that is all that you can do."
"Laying my rigid rule uponAnd then the uncomplaining Stone adds his two cents. It points out that neither one of them will accomplish anything unless they understand it's nature:
The plan, and that which serves the plan --
The helpless, uncomplaining stone."
"For I am granite and not gold,But if the Architect will design his plan and the Builder execute it taking into account the Stone's strengths and limitations, the Stone will humbly bear the burden, the great Cathedral which they wish to build.
For I am marble and not clay,
You may not hammer me nor mould --
I am the master of the way."
"Since none is master of the rest,The inspiration for this poem probably came from "Zeal of Thy House", a religious play she had written previously about the construction of a medieval cathedral, and the brilliant but proud architect commissioned to build it. More importantly, perhaps, Sayers wrote this poem at a time when she had shifted from writing novels, which is a solitary work, to writing plays, which is a collaborative one; and I think this poem was an acknowledgement of the contribution of the director and the actors and all the people who worked to bring her words to life.
And all are servants of the work --"
In Sayers' view, when the Bible said that "God made man in His own image," it did not mean that God made humans to look like him, but rather that God made beings who likewise had the capability to make things. To her, labor and the act of creation were themselves sacraments, and she wrote eloquently on work as vocation.
And to those who would boast "I Made That!" she would remind them that
"The work no master may subject
Save He to whom the whole is known,
Being Himself the Architect,
The Craftsman and the Corner-stone"