Ascension Day Sonnet

We have lift off!! Launching liturgical rockets on Ascension Day at Girton!
The experience of writing Sonnets for Advent and for The Stations of the Cross has encouraged me to go a little further and to write a more extended sequence that will touch on the major moments and turning points of the church year, and so on the central mysteries of our faith.

So here is a sonnet for Ascension Day. The mystery of this feast is the paradox whereby in one sense Christ ‘leaves’ us and is taken away into Heaven ,but in another sense he is given to us and to the world in a new and more universal way. His humanity is taken into heaven so our humanity belongs there too, and is in a sense already there with him.”For you have died, says St. Paul, and your life is hidden with christ in God. In the ascension Christ’s glory is at once revealed and concealed, and so is ours. Anyway the sonnet form seemed to me one way to begin to tease these things out.
As always you can hear the sonnet by clicking on the ‘play’ button if it appears in your browser or by clicking on the title of the poem.


We saw his light break through the cloud of glory
Whilst we were rooted still in time and place
As earth became a part of Heaven’s story
And heaven opened to his human face.
We saw him go and yet we were not parted
He took us with him to the heart of things
The heart that broke for all the broken-hearted
Is whole and Heaven-centred now, and sings,
Sings in the strength that rises out of weakness,
Sings through the clouds that veil him from our sight,
Whilst we our selves become his clouds of witness
And sing the waning darkness into light,
His light in us, and ours in him concealed,
Which all creation waits to see revealed .


Filed under christianity, Girton, imagination, Poems, Theology and Arts

20 responses to “Ascension Day Sonnet

  1. Malcolm,
    I love your poetry! It is like monastic writing, so seeped in the liturgical offices that it sings ‘Bible’. For which see Jean Leclercq, The Love of Learning and the Desire for God. Julian of Norwich writes so.
    Julia, Hermit of the Holy Family

    • malcolmguite

      Thank you so much Julia. I love Jean Leclercq’s book, so much so that my own copy is now falling to pieces. My hope now is to produce a longer cycle of sonnets, steeped in liturgy and scripture but also open to contemporary life and concerns,. I have mapped out a sequence of 75 over the course of the church year, of which I have written nearly half. I just need to find a little more trysting-tim with my muse. thanks again for your encouragement in this.

  2. Simply beautiful. Thank you!

  3. David Gent

    Thank you! Will use your poem at a service I’m about to lead at the local Day Centre. Thank you!

    • malcolmguite

      Thanks David I’m always delighted when these sonnets find their way into liturgy as that is vey much part of my intention in writing them

  4. Tim Hurd

    Another thank you. You’ve managed to condense around three Ascension homilies I hope I might have preached into 14 lines. Will use this at Evening Worship at St Luke’s, Oamaru, New Zealand. Must track down a copy of your recent collection.

  5. mel

    it’s a beautiful poem. will use it in my Sunday school class
    Thank you

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  7. Just found your poem and, as I have been asked to preach at Southwark Cathedral on Ascension Day, I hope you won’t mind if I quote from it.

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  12. I think this is a beautiful sonnet. Might I use it in one of th eYouTube services we are producing in this time of strangeness? I would be happy to give whatever form of attribution you might wish.

    • malcolmguite

      Yes that’s fine. Could you just say it’s from my book ‘Sounding The Seasons’ and is used with my permission M

  13. Peter Mills

    I am ruminating about Ascension and thinking that I might use your poem for our service tomorrow evening which is livestreamed on YouTube. Would that be acceptable to you, provided I included the source?

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