Poem: Whitsunday Eve

Poem: Whitsunday Eve May 30, 2020

I wrote this poem for Pentecost on my old site a couple of years ago. The name Whitsunday is an archaic English term for Pentecost (whit or wight is a Middle English word for spirit).


Whitsunday Eve: spirits, awake;
The hells beneath their masters shake;
For unmade Love-in-Light descends
On those their Maker called his friends,
To laurel them with stranger fire

Than priest or Levite could ensire.
From Babylon by riven tongue
Across the earth all men were flung
By the one Word, to curb their pride:
Now Zion meets a changing tide,
A living water-wave of speech,
Of strangers singing, each to each,
In words that only angels knew
Until these minds, uplifted, flew
On silver Dove-wings. Lips of gold
(As Hebrew prophets darkly told,
Before they knew or heard the laud
Goyim would offer to their God)
Proclaim the holy, trinal Breath,
He who woke Lazarus from death
At the Word of the Father: now
He makes the whole creation bow,
Entering in a lovelier light
Than yet had graced man’s ghostly sight.
The rushing fire-wind-water sound
Makes all the infant Church resound;
Who once on Sinai fell with fear
Rains down in power and glory here —
Our Lord the Spirit, sacrament
Of God’s own being. Heaven is rent
With cries of pure seraphic joy
That hell has no power to destroy;
For lo, the Church receives her birth
And call, to be upon the earth
Her Savior’s Body, he her soul,
That his life may suffuse the whole
Creation by her agency;
For this was his great mystery,
His being we should share by grace
For that he shared our fleshly race;
His Spirit this great secret plumbs
And triumphs that his kingdom comes.

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