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Folded Time: Poems for Easter Sunday

'Earth throws Winter's robes away, decks herself for Easter Day.' -Gerard Manley Hopkins


As C.S. Lewis says, ‘We come to the strangest story of all, the story of the resurrection.’

The piece by Gerard Manley Hopkins below will beckon you into the clamour, chaos, and excitement of Easter morning when the band of disciples was united with the Risen Christ. The cosmic phenomenon of rebirth, mimicked a million times over through every budding flower of spring, becomes a disruptive, joyful, and historical reality through the event of the resurrection.


From a cosmic level to a more personal level, George Herbert’s renowned poem titled ‘Love’ sets the vivid scene of dialogue between Jesus and a guest feeling shy and unworthy. Christ gently invites this guest to share in an intimate and celebratory feast of sins forgiven, saying ‘you must sit down,’ says Love, ‘and taste my meat.’ So I did sit and eat.’


Lastly, George MacDonald’s poem narratively embeds the resurrection in the life of Mary Magdalene by moving you through her story, which mirrors the Easter theme and is crescendoed by her role as a messenger after being one of the first to see Jesus alive again.


May these words nourish you as you partake in the story of Easter Day.



Botanical Gardens, Oxford


Easter by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Break the box and shed the nard;

Stop not now to count the cost;

Hither bring pearl, opal, sard;

Reck not what the poor have lost;

Upon Christ throw all away:

Know ye, this is Easter Day.


Build His church and deck His shrine,

Empty though it be on earth;

Ye have kept your choicest wine—

Let it flow for heavenly mirth;

Pluck the harp and breathe the horn:

Know ye not 'tis Easter morn?


Gather gladness from the skies;

Take a lesson from the ground;

Flowers do ope their heavenward eyes

And a Spring-time joy have found;

Earth throws Winter's robes away,

Decks herself for Easter Day.


Beauty now for ashes wear,

Perfumes for the garb of woe,

Chaplets for dishevelled hair,

Dances for sad footsteps slow;

Open wide your hearts that they

Let in joy this Easter Day.


Seek God's house in happy throng;

Crowded let His table be;

Mingle praises, prayer, and song,

Singing to the Trinity.

Henceforth let your souls alway

Make each morn an Easter Day.



Love by George Herbert

Love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,

Guilty of dust and sin.

But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack

From my first entrance in,

Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning

If I lack’d anything.


‘A guest,’ I answer’d, ‘worthy to be here:’

Love said, ‘You shall be he.’

‘I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,

I cannot look on Thee.’

Love took my hand and smiling did reply,

‘Who made the eyes but I?’


‘Truth, Lord; but I have marr’d them: let my shame

Go where it doth deserve.’

‘And know you not,’ says Love, ‘Who bore the blame?’

‘My dear, then I will serve.’

‘You must sit down,’ says Love, ‘and taste my meat.’

So I did sit and eat.



Mary Magdalene by George Macdonald

With wandering eyes and aimless zeal,

She hither, thither, goes;

Her speech, her motions, all reveal

A mind without repose.


She climbs the hills, she haunts the sea,

By madness tortured, driven;

One hour’s forgetfulness would be

A gift from very heaven!


She slumbers into new distress;

The night is worse than day:

Exulting in her helplessness,

Hell’s dogs yet louder bay.


The demons blast her to and fro;

She has no quiet place,

Enough a woman still, to know

A haunting dim disgrace.


A human touch! a pang of death!

And in a low delight

Thou liest, waiting for new breath.

For morning out of night.


Thou risest up: the earth is fair,

The wind is cool; thou art free!

Is it a dream of hell’s despair

Dissolves in ecstasy?


That man did touch thee! Eyes divine

Make sunrise in thy soul;

Thou seest love in order shine:—

His health hath made thee whole!


Thou, sharing in the awful doom,

Didst help thy Lord to die;

Then, weeping o’er his empty tomb,

Didst hear him Mary cry.


He stands in haste; he cannot stop;

Home to his God he fares:

“Go tell my brothers I go up

To my Father, mine and theirs.”


Run, Mary! lift thy heavenly voice;

Cry, cry, and heed not how;

Make all the new-risen world rejoice—

Its first apostle thou!


What if old tales of thee have lied,

Or truth have told, thou art

All-safe with him, whate’er betide—

Dwell’st with him in God’s heart!



Worcester Gardens, Oxford

 Sources

All artwork is from the Visual Commentary on Scripture project by King’s College London. Many of the poems were found in Word in the Wilderness by Malcolm Guite.


Drinking in the oddities and beauties around me.


Cheers.

Carolyn

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