Lapses into piety

Strange Flowers

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

– Romans 10:13

Harry Crosby, American poet and publisher, didn’t die on this day in 1917. Big deal, right? Well it was to Crosby, who was then serving at Verdun as an ambulance driver and survived a shell attack which, by rights, should have blown him to kingdom come.

Earlier the same day he had chanced upon the above passage in the Bible, and for a while afterwards attributed his miraculous survival to You-Know-Who. His friends teased him about his subsequent “lapses into piety”, during which he promised to forego his wayward ways in thanks for his deliverance.

Impatient to test himself in the theatre of war, Crosby had sailed in high summer from New York to Bordeaux on the French ship Espagne. Also on board was Cole Porter; like Crosby, born to fortune. But…

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