Three o’clock. The bus lurches
round into the sun. ‘D’s this go –‘
he flops beside me – ‘right along Bath Street?
– Oh tha’s, tha’s all right, see I’ve
got to get some Easter eggs for the kiddies.
I’ve had a wee drink, ye understand –
ye’ll maybe think it’s a – funny day
to be celebrating – well, no, but ye see
I wasny working, and I like to celebrate
when I’m no working – I don’t say it’s right
I’m no saying it’s right, ye understand – ye understand?
But anyway tha’s the way I look at it –
I’m no boring you, eh? – ye see today,
take today, I don’t know what today’s in aid of,
whether Christ was – crucified or was he –
rose fae the dead like, see what I mean?
You’re an educatit man, you can tell me –
– Aye, well. There ye are. It’s been seen
time and again, the working man
has nae education, he jist canny – jist
hasny got it, know what I mean,
he’s jist bliddy ignorant – Christ aye,
bliddy ignorant. Well –’ The bus brakes violently,
he lunges for the stair, swings down – off,
into the sun for his Easter eggs,
Three Poems for Good Friday
From “The Everlasting Mercy”
O Christ who holds the open gate,
O Christ who drives the furrow straight,
O Christ, the plough, O Christ, the laughter
Of holy white birds flying after,
Lo, all my heart’s field red and torn,
And Thou wilt bring the young green corn
The young green corn divinely springing,
The young green corn forever singing;
And when the field is fresh and fair
Thy blessèd feet shall glitter there,
And we will walk the weeded field,
And tell the golden harvest’s yield,
The corn that makes the holy bread
By which the soul of man is fed,
The holy bread, the food unpriced,
Thy everlasting mercy, Christ.
From “The Dream of the Rood”
Anglo-Saxon, 8th century, trans. Richard Hammer (1970)
The earliest Christian poem in English
The Rood (cross of Christ) speaks:
“It was long past – I still remember it –
That I was cut down at the copse’s end,
Moved from my root. Strong enemies there took me,
Told me to hold aloft their criminals,
Made me a spectacle. Men carried me
Upon their shoulders, set me on a hill,
A host of enemies there fastened me.
“And then I saw the Lord of all mankind
Hasten with eager zeal that He might mount
Upon me. I durst not against God’s word
Bend down or break, when I saw tremble all
The surface of the earth. Although I might
Have struck down all the foes, yet stood I fast.
“Then the young hero (who was God almighty)
Got ready, resolute and strong in heart.
He climbed onto the lofty gallows-tree,
Bold in the sight of many watching men,
When He intended to redeem mankind.
I trembled as the warrior embraced me.
But still I dared not bend down to the earth,
Fall to the ground. Upright I had to stand.
“A rood I was raised up; and I held high
The noble King, the Lord of heaven above.
I dared not stoop. They pierced me with dark nails;
The scars can still be clearly seen on me,
The open wounds of malice. Yet might I
Not harm them. They reviled us both together.
I was made wet all over with the blood
Which poured out from his side, after He had
Sent forth His spirit. And I underwent
Full many a dire experience on that hill.
I saw the God of hosts stretched grimly out.
Darkness covered the Ruler’s corpse with clouds
His shining beauty; shadows passed across,
Black in the darkness. All creation wept,
Bewailed the King’s death; Christ was on the cross….
“Now you may understand, dear warrior,
That I have suffered deeds of wicked men
And grievous sorrows. Now the time has come
That far and wide on earth men honor me,
And all this great and glorious creation,
And to this beacon offers prayers. On me
The Son of God once suffered; therefore now
I tower mighty underneath the heavens,
And I may heal all those in awe of me.
Once I became the cruelest of tortures,
Most hateful to all nations, till the time
I opened the right way of life for men.”
Am I a stone, and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy blood’s slow loss,
And yet not weep?
Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;
Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon –
I, only I.
Yet give not o’er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.
Good Friday Poem
Poetry can often seem so difficult to write that we don’t even bother. Yet it can harness images and tell picutres in ways which are very difficult using other types of art or media. This resource is both the poem itself and a call to action; try to write something yourself!
Think about images and pictures you want people to think about, how you want someone to react, how you want someone to hear what you are telling them. Start writing something, don’t be afraid to cross things out, change them, or go back to what you started with. Poems are crafted, they do not come out fully formed! Get people to give you feedback before you try to use something you’ve written. Which bits do they like? Which images do not work so well? Above all, just have a go and see what you come up with.
At the Cross
And time ticks past.
Made silent by the sight.
As soldiers meticulously move
Executing each terrible, torturous task.
Still life lingers in His fragile, broken form.
As blow by blow,
Nails bite deep through flesh to find wood.
As He is lifted high,
Silhouetted ‘gainst the sky which He has made.
As His cry echoes deep in my hardened, calloused heart.
As He screams ‘it is complete,
Finished, final, said and done.’
As the sky turns inky black
And the sun and moon and stars forget to shine.
As worlds collide,
And time ticks by;
What once bound, no longer seems to hold.
For part of me is gone,
Kept forever on Calvary’s painful peak.
At the foot of the cross, to begin my journey home.
Jesus, I want my sins back.
My prattle, pride, and private prices —
climbing, clinching, clocking —
I might loan you a few for the evening,
so you don’t show up at your own crucifixion
naked of all purpose.
But for God’s sake, don’t spill any
redemption on them! They’re my
signature looks. Body by Envy.
Make up & wardrobe provided by Avarice. Lord,
if you take away my inordinate cravings,
what the hell’s left? Do you know
how much I paid for my best rages?
I want them all back if they’re
so To Die For. Else shred my palms,
wash my face with spit, let the whip
unlace my flesh and free the naked blood,
let me be tumbled to immortality
with the stew of flood debris
that is my life.