Pilgrim Poems (Lent Poems 28 and 29)

Two more poems from earlier in the sequence, both dealing with the pilgrims approaching Jerusalem for the Passover. The second poem, “Even His Own Brothers”, goes back to early in Jesus’ ministry, when his unbelieving brothers try to convince Jesus to go to Jerusalem in order to make a big impression.

Pilgrimage
I rejoiced when they said unto me:
Let us go, let us leave
For the house of the Lord. Let us now go.
There we will go, bringing our peace.
There we all go. We meet there in peace.
There the tribes go, joyful and praising,
To the city, the temple, the king’s city, where
His throne stands. The city stands
Compacted together. There
We will all meet,
Before the king’s throne,
In his city, this city of peace.
Jerusalem, we’re near you; will you receive
Us as your guests? Will
You receive us in peace?
Jerusalem, we are now here:
Our feet are standing
In your uneasy gates –
Even His Own Brothers
(John 7:3-5)
Jesus’ brothers said to him, “You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him.
1.
He shook off the taunts of the well-intentioned:
The right time for me has not yet come.
Had he not said the same to his mother
A few months ago, when the wine had run dry
And the master of the wedding had asked
For assistance? Had he then, any more than now,
Been concerned with social niceties or
The demands of public life? Had he courted
Then, or now, the limelight?
Yet that day the best wine had flowed:
Wine to gladden the heart. Though
Evading the piercing glances of
A public who demanded to know each step he took,
Whose clothes he wore and which brands he would support
When he overthrew Rome, or those who poked him
With sticks and said, Show us a miracle, Christ,
He would not neglect the work he came to do:
The bringing of new wine, the birth of a new kingdom,
In, and yet not of, this world that he trod.
2.
For you any time is right,
Said the brother whom they did not understand,
The eldest, the crazed one, the public magician who
Refused to turn up to his most glamorous gigs.
The world cannot hate you,
but it hates me because…
By now they had tuned out. They played a flute for him
Yet he would not dance, a dirge but he would not mourn.
There was no pleasing this one.
Back to their homes they went,
To the regularity of wood shaped with chisel and plane,
While in Judea he hid himself until just the right time
To shake up the self-congratulating party with
The harsh, dissident cymbal of the truth.

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