“The King shall come”

The King shall come, when men have proved their worst,
Into the squalor of their ceaseless war
To prove God righteous, merciful, and just,
And lead from shame into a way of peace.

The King has come, announced by herald hosts,
And by his life, his sacrificial death,
And taking up his life again in might
Begun a kingdom that shall never end.

The King shall come when every knee has bent
And every foe surrendered to his rule,
Greeted with acclamation by his folk,
To sit down on his rightful throne on Earth.

I wrote this poem about this time last year, but at that time decided to postpone posting it here until this Advent, since I filled last Advent with my series on the O Antiphons. I tried to distill my understanding of the various subjects of the Advent season, which I meditated on in three prior posts in 2012, briefly into verse with some definite structure.

I earnestly welcome your comments, questions, critique, or other feedback about this or any other part of my work. If you’d like to read more of my poetry, you can read my archive (also organized in more manageable installments), follow this blog for (now only occasional) new poetry (among other things), or get my book, which contains over sixty of my best poems, each paired with a public-domain illustration or drawing. You may also share this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.

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The Incarnation: The Beachhead of the Divine Victory

As the Christmas season begins today, I wish you all a happy Christmas.

As I have written before, Christmas is a celebration of the Incarnation, of the fact that (if I may quote my own poetry)

The One who made and makes all things
Is, at the end of ages, made
In lowly human likeness, flesh;
He in whom “all things hold together,”
“Sustaining all things by his word,”
Now, humbly, is himself sustained
By virgin mother’s loving care.
He who, on Sinai, gave the Law
Descends from formless fire and smoke
To bear himself the yoke he made,
And, later, bear its breakers’ curse.

C.S. Lewis, I think it was, once likened the Incarnation to the beachhead of an invasion to take back for God what was rightfully his.

I like that analogy, but Lewis—or whoever—didn’t take it far enough. A “beachhead” of the sort that the Incarnation was in the spiritual war is not the insertion of a few covert operatives to bide their time, do one flashy but limited mission, then evacuate. It is, rather, the first openly-announced wave of an inexorable re-conquest.

For unto us a child is born,
unto us a son is given:
and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
and his name shall be called
Wonderful,
Counselor,
The mighty God,
The everlasting Father,
The Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace
there shall be no end,
upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom,
to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice
from henceforth even for ever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

And “all God’s promises find their ‘Yes!’ in Christ.”

(More about this in five months, when we celebrate the Ascension.)

Christ is born! Let us glorify him!

“Humility” — A Poem for Christmas

The One who made and makes all things
Is, at the end of ages, made
In lowly human likeness, flesh;
He in whom “all things hold together,”
“Sustaining all things by his word,”
Now, humbly, is himself sustained
By virgin mother’s loving care.
He who, on Sinai, gave the Law
Descends from formless fire and smoke
To bear himself the yoke he made,
And, later, bear its breakers’ curse.

And oh! the wonder of it all:
All this was planned from the beginning;
Long before the world began,
Ere our first parents made their choice
To listen to the serpent, eat
And know, and forfeit Paradise,
He who is Wisdom made his choice
To live our life—to be this child—
To suffer poverty, and die.

O vast, unfathomable grace!
O mercy none can tell enough!
How much we owe this infant King!
A debt that none could ever pay,
That he has taken on himself!
So let us, then, live gratefully
The life that he would have us live—
Be imitators of our Head.

The beginning of this poem came to me earlier this week, when I was contemplating again the miracle of the Incarnation; after further reflection, I was able to shape my further thoughts into the rest of what you see above. I’d been planning on writing a poem sometime soon that experimented with iambic tetrameter, after it was pointed out to me how consistently I use pedestrian blank verse, and so while I wasn’t sure it would work, I tried the shorter meter here.

As always, I earnestly welcome your (further) comments, suggestions, questions, critique, or other feedback about this or any other part of my work. If you liked this, you can follow this blog, which includes one of my poems every Friday, or read other poems I’ve written here on my blog (perhaps starting with those linked from one of the “archive” installments, since the full archive is by now, at over two hundred poems, somewhat daunting). You may also share this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.

This poem is also mirrored on my wiki.

“O come, O King”

O come, O King—Desire of nations, come—
And make of us your promised lasting home.
Purge with your fire each hint of dross away,
And kindle lights across your whole domain
Until no corner of this mortal sphere
Remains in darkness and resists your reign.
Take up your scepter, rule from pole to pole
In true and perfect, everlasting peace.
O, Maranatha!—King of Glory, come!

I had in mind to post a different poem that’s been sitting on my desk for some time—and then this wouldn’t leave me alone until I got it down. And it’s eminently suitable for a Friday in Advent. And I now regret that I used the title “Advent” for an earlier poem.

As always, I earnestly welcome your (further) comments, suggestions (perhaps of a real title for this poem?), questions, critique, or other feedback about this or any other part of my work. If you liked this, you can follow this blog, which includes one of my poems every Friday, or read other poems I’ve written here on my blog (perhaps starting with those linked from one of the “archive” installments, since the full archive is by now, at over two hundred poems, somewhat daunting). You may also share this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.

This poem is also mirrored on my wiki.

“Psalm 2”

How dare the nations join to plot revolt,
And all the kings and rulers stand, conspire
Against the Lord, on who their thrones depend,
And rise against the Lord’s anointed Son?
But God, enthroned in heaven, laughs in scorn
And cows them with his glory and his wrath,
For he has placed his king on Zion’s hill.
He said—his word is law—“You are my son,
From this day I’m your father; ask of me,
And I will gladly give you anything:
The nations? So you shall inherit them;
The world’s remotest lands? They shall be yours.
And you shall rule them with an iron scepter,
Crushing every foe like brittle clay.”
So therefore, kings, conspiring rulers, heed:
Be wise, not foolish, and in reverent fear
Obey the Lord, and serve him; though you quake,
Rejoice in him and love his righteous ways.
And stoop to do your homage to the Son,
To kiss his feet, lest his fierce anger flare
And so consume you in his kindled wrath.
But blest are they who find their home in him!

This versification of the second psalm continues the series I began a few months ago with my setting of the first psalm. But while that poem came easily to me, this one proved much more difficult, and I’m still not entirely satisfied with it.

As always, I earnestly welcome your comments, suggestions, questions, critique, or other feedback about this or any other part of my work. (In other words, if you liked this poem, or you didn’t like it, or it made you think of something, or … please leave a comment to let me know.) If you liked this, you can follow this blog, which includes one of my poems every Friday, or read other poems I’ve written here on my blog (starting with yesterday’s archive installment, since the full archive is by now, at well over a hundred poems, somewhat daunting); I’d especially like to know, as part of my preparations for a collection, which poems you think are my best. You may also share this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.

This poem is also mirrored on my wiki.

“Upon that head”: An Ascensiontide poem

Upon the head that once a virgin laid,
All swaddled, in a manger’s straw-filled bed
Now rest all heaven’s glories and its crown;
The man who on a barren mountain sat
To teach the crowds the truth they would not heed
Now sits at God’s right hand, and on his throne,
Until all foes, subdued, have bent the knee.
Upon his brow, once scourged by mocking thorns,
Now meet “all wreaths of empire”; in his hands,
Which on the tree stretched wide in selfless love,
He bears the iron rod of rightful rule—
A justice, equity, the peoples fear.
But see, those nail-pierced feet, which ran with blood
When he for us, and in our place endured,
Now stand for our defense before the throne—
No better advocate could any hope to have!
For he who on the cross was lifted up
For our salvation, then to hell went low
And in three days arose to life anew,
Was lifted up again—that when he comes,
And all his people rise to welcome him,
The earth “may see, and fear,” and stand in awe.

I wrote this poem—in bits and pieces, fits and starts—over the last couple of weeks so that I could post something suitable for the day after the anniversary of the Christ’s ascension into heaven. I drew heavily from various hymns, some seasonal and some not, and creeds for inspiration and for wording, and decided to consider as a source of connections each stage of his earthly life in order.

As always, I earnestly welcome your comments, suggestions, questions, critique, or other feedback about this or any other part of my work. (In other words, if you liked this poem, or you didn’t like it, or it made you think of something, or … please leave a comment to let me know.) If you liked this, you can follow this blog, which includes one of my poems every Friday, or read other poems I’ve written here on my blog (starting with yesterday’s archive installment, since the full archive is by now, at well over a hundred poems, somewhat daunting); I’d especially like to know which poems you think are my best. You may also share it with others, subject to my sharing policy.

This poem is also archived on my wiki.

The Unexpected Incarnation

Last week, for the first week of Advent, I wrote about how the [first coing of the Christ was “long-expected”](https://shinecycle.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/advent-long-expected/”>first coming of the Christ was “long-expected”). But while the timing was perfect, the Incarnation was unexpected in several ways. Continue reading