With the dawn of a new church year, we have launched a new feature on our website, a weekly post of poetry that resonates with the lectionary readings for that week (Revised Common Lectionary).
*** Narrative Lectionary ***
The Widow of Nain
Forth from the city, with the load
That makes the trampling low,
They walk along the dreary road
That dust and ashes go.
The other way, toward the gate
Their trampling strong and loud,
With hope of liberty elate,
Comes on another crowd.
Nearer and nearer draw the twain—
One with a wailing cry!
How could the Life let such a train
Of death and tears go by!
“Weep not,” he said, and touched the bier:
They stand, the dead who bear;
The mother knows nor hope nor fear—
He waits not for her prayer.
“Young man, I say to thee, arise.”
Who hears, he must obey:
Up starts the body; wide the eyes
Flash wonder and dismay.
The lips would speak, as if they caught
Some converse sudden broke
When the great word the dead man sought,
And Hades’ silence woke.
The lips would speak: the eyes’ wild stare
Gives place to ordered sight;
The murmur dies upon the air;
The soul is dumb with light.
He brings no news; he has forgot,
Or saw with vision weak:
Thou sees! all our unseen lot,
And yet thou dost not speak.
Hold’st thou the news, as parent might
A too good gift, away,
Lest we should neither sleep at night,
Nor do our work by day?
The mother leaves us not a spark
Of her triumph over grief;
Her tears alone have left their mark
Upon the holy leaf:
Oft gratitude will thanks benumb,
Joy will our laughter quell:
May not Eternity be dumb
With things too good to tell?
Her straining arms her lost one hold;
Question she asketh none;
She trusts for all he leaves untold;
Enough, to clasp her son!
The ebb is checked, the flow begun,
Sent rushing to the gate:
Death turns him backward to the sun,
And life is yet our fate!
*** This poem is in the public domain,
and may be read in a live-streamed worship service.
The Widow of Naim
The men that cut their graves in the grey rocks
Go down more slowly than the sun upon their dusty country:
White as the wall, the weepers leave the town,
To be the friends of grief, and follow
To the new tomb a widow’s sorrow.