The Slowing Year (For John Keble)

My year-long poetry project, “The Swelling Year”, is drawing to a close and will finish shortly after the Easter period ends. Today’s poem signals something of a milestone in the project: the last of the “feast days” for significant Christians remembered in the Anglican calendar. Somewhat appropriately, this poem remembers John Keble, a man whose ideas about church I would not completely see eye-to-eye with but with whom I have a level of kinship because he, like me, wrote poems for most of the days of the Anglican year, in a collection called “The Christian Year”. Today’s poem is based around his Good Friday poem; it does not seem that anyone other than Jesus should be the focal point of a poem today, so I have used this poem to unite Keble’s work and mine around our common Saviour, Jesus Christ.
 
The Slowing Year (For John Keble, Priest)
 
As in all lowly hearts he suffers still,
While we triumphant ride and have the world at will.
(John Keble, “Good Friday”)
 
And so the year goes on, for go it does,
Cycling through its old familiar ways;
We take a breath as this holiest of days
Slows down the motions of our weekly throes,
And hearts consumed with silent dreads and woes
But vaguely turn their twisted, inner gaze
Towards the tree where our Ancient of Days
Hangs, contorted, for a Roman show.
 
If we could pause the swelling of our years
Enough to let our wounds rest in his wounds,
We might find hiding places for our shame
And tissue torn to daub up all our tears.
There all our sorrows sound their sweetest tunes
Within the broken triumph of his Name.

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