A Sonnet for All Saints Day

The dark is bright with quiet lives and steady lights undimmed

All Saints Day falls on November 1st but many churches will keep the feast on this Sunday the 30th October. So here is my sonnet for All Saints Day, a little in advance, for anyone who might want to read or make use of it in a service. On the feast of All Saints we celebrate the light of Christ reflected in the saints, living and departed who surround and inspire us even in our present darkness. The image I have chosen to accompany this poem is of candles lit to celebrate All Saints day in Poland. As always you can hear the poem by clicking on the ‘play’ button if it appears, or on the title.

All Saints

Though Satan breaks our dark glass into shards

Each shard still shines with Christ’s reflected light,

It glances from the eyes, kindles the words

Of all his unknown saints. The dark is bright

With quiet lives and steady lights undimmed,

The witness of the ones we shunned and shamed.

Plain in our sight and far beyond our seeing

He weaves them with us in the web of being

They stand beside us even as we grieve,

The lone and left behind whom no one claimed,

Unnumbered multitudes, he lifts above

The shadow of the gibbet and the grave,

To triumph where all saints are known and named;

The gathered glories of His wounded love.

'Each shard still shines' image by Margot Krebs Neale


Filed under christianity, imagination, Poems

13 responses to “A Sonnet for All Saints Day

  1. This is a particularly lovely sonnet, and some comfort for those of us who are shocked and saddened by the actions of the dean and chapter of St Paul’s!

    • malcolmguite

      Thanks Richard, I share your feelings about the St. Paul’s debacle, and I’m impressed by Giles Fraser’s courageous stand

  2. Elizabeth

    An admonition in a sense that reminds us of the light in those we perhaps did not love enough because we did not see Christ’s light in them. An intercession too. Thank you, Malcolm.

    • malcolmguite

      Thanks Elizabeth, that’s a helpful and interesting comment. I sometimes feel that in the act of composing these sonnets I am myself being taught things I had previously evaded or avoided

  3. “Plain in our sight and far beyond our seeing
    He weaves them with us in the web of being”

    Eye-opening imagery.

  4. Lynn Severance

    Beautiful and meaningful to me, Malcolm.
    We have a great cloud of witnesses who are cheering us onward as we continue our jouney Home.

  5. malcolmguite

    Thanks Lynn 🙂

  6. "LadyLorraine"

    Ah, yes, “the gathered glories of his wounded love.” Thank you Malcolm.

  7. Dear Malcolm,
    When I was looking on the web for a poem about All Saints’ Day I came across your sonnet and would very much like to include it into our order of service for the coming Sunday. Would it be possible for us to copy the poem with your name and add it to the last page of our order of Service?

    • malcolmguite

      Dorothea, yes by all means use the poem and print it in your order of service. My hope in writing these sonnets was that they might be a contribution to worship and liturgy in the wider church. I am hoping to complete a cycle of these sonnets that goes through the whole church year and publish it, in book form, as well as on the web, under the title ‘Sounding the Seasons’. I am about two thirds of the way through and on the home stretch now 🙂

  8. Khaliqur Rahman

    Beautiful piece of poetry that reminds me of Coleridge’s
    If you would, would you go to
    Best wishes

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