Song of the Pierced Veil (After Ann Griffiths’ “Hymn for the Mercy Seat”)

My poems based on the work of Welsh poet Ann Griffiths have been a bit slow in coming out this month, I’m afraid. It’s been a particularly busy time at work and in my studies, giving me many other things to occupy my time apart from writing poetry. But it’s time to catch up!
 
Today’s poem is inspired by Griffiths’ majestic “Hymn for the Mercy Seat”, wonderfully translated (again) by Rowan Williams and available to be read here. The original is so magnificent, and so idiosyncratic of Griffiths’ work, that I have decided to use it more as a point of departure for my own poem rather than trying to replicate it in any way. My poem is a ballade, an old French form that has its origins in music. I hope that you enjoy reading it.
 
Song of the Pierced Veil (After “Hymn for the Mercy Seat”)
 
Flesh rots: instead, aflame, along with heaven’s singers,
I shall pierce through the veil, into the land
Of infinite astonishment, the land
Of what was done at Calvary…
(Ann Griffiths, “Hymn for the Mercy Seat”, trans. Rowan Williams)
 
And when in faith I pierce the veil
And then at last see face-to-face
The One who orders rain and hail
And binds the seas within their place;
And when at last, brazen with grace,
I take my steps towards the throne,
And find there One who pleads my case,
Then I shall not be left alone.
 
He will not leave us orphaned, frail,
Desolate, rotting, debased;
Look to the man upon Skull Hill
Who bled and died, and now all space
Cannot contain Him! He’ll embrace
Us filthy ones: He has atoned
For all our nakedness, disgrace;
We shall not then be left alone.
 
Then Hell will grasp to no avail:
The Mercy Seat has won the race.
Though teeth will gnash and lost ones wail,
The broken ones will join in praise
Unto the Lamb, Ancient of Days,
Who was and is and will prevail
And pleads forever for His own
That they may sing to Him always;
They shall never be left alone.
 
His righteousness will then replace
The blemishes of skin and bone.
Gone, gone their stains without a trace;
And never will they be alone.

4 thoughts on “Song of the Pierced Veil (After Ann Griffiths’ “Hymn for the Mercy Seat”)

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