Almanac Poetry: After Reading Kenneth Tynan’s Review of John Osborne’s Play Luther


Portrait of Martin Luther, by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1529. St Anne’s Church, Augsburg. [Wikimedia Commons.]


After Reading Kenneth Tynan’s Review of John Osborne’s Play Luther


Luther and his anus…


Eminent American psychologist,
Erik Erikson, wrote
that the monk’s key moments
were connected to his bowels,
noting his famous ‘revelation in the tower’
in fact took place in the privy
and that he was ‘plagued by constipation’
throughout his life.


Theatre critic, Ken Tynan,
in a review of Osborne’s play, Luther,
referred to Erikson’s study,
further observing that the monk
once commissioned a woodcut
in which Rome was depicted
as a harlot giving rectal birth
to a bevy of misshapen demons.


Osborne’s play itself,
according to Mr. Tynan,
was inspired by this anality,
revelled in excremental earthiness
and throbbed with a rhetorical zeal
unheard on the English stage
since the seventeenth century.




(Acknowledgements: poem first appeared in my second book-length poetry collection, Lionheart Summer, Picaro Press, 2011; reprinted by Ginninderra Press, 2018.)



Read more from Kevin Densley HERE


Kevin Densley’s latest poetry collection, Sacredly Profane, is available HERE


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Kevin Densley is a graduate of both Deakin University and The University of Melbourne. He has taught writing and literature in numerous Victorian universities and TAFES. He is a poet and writer-in-general. His fifth book-length poetry collection, Please Feed the Macaws ... I'm Feeling Too Indolent, was published in late 2023 by Ginninderra Press. He is also the co-author of ten play collections for young people, as well as a multi Green Room Award nominated play, Last Chance Gas, which was published by Currency Press. Other writing includes screenplays for educational films.


  1. Shit happens, huh? Luther was a man for our age. A once marginal and ignored prophet banging his templates of moderation and abstinence on the doors of excess. The apocalypse looms. Thanks KD.–Howe_generational_theory
    Neil Howe’s “Fourth Turning” book and a wide variety of podcasts and You Tube’s with him are highly recommended for those thinking about how our future unfolds. Happy to offer a primer for anyone interested.

  2. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks for your comments, PB – highly interesting and thought-provoking, as usual.

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