“Gardens”

The gospel begins in a glorious garden.
For love they daily labored, the lightest of loads,
Their efforts governed by one solitary rule.
But teased and tempted, they transgressed, and failed the test,
Dooming all their descendants to so disobey,
Binding every baby born to share the bitter blame.

Another garden, of a moonlight evening,
Saw the Second Adam’s anguished sorrow, sighing, speak
And heard his humble, heartfelt prayer as hours grew short
Till the ill-bought betrayer brought his brutal band
To bind and drag him down to meet the dreadful doom
Which he, our righteous Champion, now chose to face.

Later, after he died our death, his dust was laid
In grief within a borrowed garden rock-cut grave,
But when Mary, still mourning, came to embalm him,
An angel, glorious, announced the awesome truth:
The Christ had risen in utter triumph from the tomb.

When all his plans at last are fully accomplished,
This wretched, weary world made new, we are assured,
The temple where our Lord will always dwell with us
Will sit within the splendor of a garden city.

I began this poem in the middle of last month when I thought of the concept for the first two stanzas, intending it to be for Good Friday. Then I ran into difficulty, and when I returned to it I had forgotten what meter I was in, so I had to adjust what I wrote in that sitting to match the rest; I also found that I had written a poem as suited to Eastertide as to Holy Week. So I dithered as to when to post it, and settled on today.

As always, 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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“Crowds”

“Hosanna! Savior, hail!” the masses cried
To greet their rightful King, though in their hearts
They shouted more to strain the chafing bonds
That long-oppressive Rome had laid on them
Than from true fealty to God’s anointed.

Not one week later, these same thronging crowds,
Incited by their leaders’ selfish plots
And stirred up into frenzied lust for blood,
Now clamored for their King to be condemned,
Abused, accursed, and put to gruesome death.

As he trudged through the streets, and up the hill,
Then hung in agony for his last hours,
The multitudes passed by to mock his end
Or stood to shout more scorn, but he was silent,
Suffering the bitter fate he chose
Without complaint, and even speaking grace
To those who tortured him before he died.

At last he breathed his final mortal breath
And cried his work’s completion to the sky;
An earthquake marked the opening of the way
That greater multitudes thereafter tread
Who have been, by his sufferings, brought to peace.

Photograph of Golgotha by an unknown photographer

I had long intended to write a poem for Good Friday, or at least for Holy Week, as in several of the last few years, but the first glimmers of an idea for the above only came to me less than a week ago.

As always, 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.

“Last Words”

The Lord of light and life has bared his back
To suffer spiteful scourging, spread his hands
In painful welcome wide beneath the nails,
And hung in human agony for hours.
But, as the soldiers gambled for his clothes,
His labored, anguished breath gave voice to grace:
“Forgive, because they know not what they do.”

Continue reading

“The Life of all that lives”

The Life of all that lives lays down his life
To die the death the dead deserve to die;
The Blessed One for us becomes accursed—
Though sinless, bears what sinful men deserve. Continue reading

“Pascha”

Each Friday I post one of my poems.

Behold, upon that cross, between two thieves,
How vast the Maker’s wrath upon the ill
That we, and all our human race have done
In our revolt against his perfect law:
The sun, untimely darkened, hides its face
At the mere sight of God’s just punishment.
But see it meted, not to us condemned,
But to his perfect, sinless only Son,
For grace in love abounds in mercy here
Beyond the vastness of his holy wrath.
How foolish to our mortal, human eyes
This love, unsearchable, cannot but seem—
Yet in its shade the wise must stand in shame.
Oh, Lord, that you would make me such a fool!
Teach me to love you as your gift deserves;
Teach me to love my neighbor as you did
There on that day, upon that cruel hill.

I wrote this months ago—perhaps last October—but held it in reserve until the day most appropriate for it.

I always welcome your comments, critique, suggestions, or any other feedback on this poem or any other part of my work. You can also read other poems I’ve written here on my blog.

This poem is also posted on my wiki.