"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

05 April 2007

Good Friday Sonnets

At Mere Comments, Tony Esolen has been posting some sonnets on the stations of the cross written by William A. Donaghy sometime in the mid-20th century. Here is what Tony says about the poems, a few of which were sent to him by a friend: "Touchstone reader Fr. David Standen put me on to a few of them, then the archivists at Holy Cross forwarded to him the entire set, which can be viewed here [look for "Stations of the Cross" posted 30 March, 2007, if they are not at the top of the page]. They were published in what I think was the college literary magazine, Spirit, though I'll have to check on that detail."

Tony's meditations on the ones he's posted are well worth looking for at Mere Comments; he is as eloquent as the poet and challenges us to make the poet's insights ours. Here are two that especially struck me; I offer them as meditative reading for Good Friday coming up.

XI. He Is Nailed to the Cross

This sound had echoed back in Nazareth,
The thudding hammer on the singing nails,
When Mary hastened off in flying veils,
With eyes like violets, and quickened breath,
Her Babe within her, to Elizabeth.
Now Mary winces, clenches hands, and pales,
Her dauntless spirit cringes, twists and quails,
And at each jolt she dies a double death.

The soldiers need not force Him for He lies
Patient beneath them; as the nails tear through,
His shining prayer is piercing inky skies,
"Forgive them; for they know not what they do."
And even now the arms which they transfix
Would guard them as a mother bird her chicks.

XIV. He Is Buried

The mourners slowly bring Him through the gloom,
The valiant women, and three faithful men;
Her shoulders shaking, stormy Magdalen
Is weeping as in Simon's dining room;
But she who felt Him moving in her womb,
Who wrapped and laid Him in a manger then
Is still His handmaid, ready once again
To wrap Him up and lay Him in His tomb.

Once Delphi was the navel of the earth,
But now this sepulchre, which blackly yawns,
Becomes the point and center of all worth,
The focus of all sunsets and all dawns;
Within this cavern, could the world but see,
Mythology yields place to mystery.

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