Two Sonnets for Corpus Christi

The Feast of Corpus Christi (the Body of Christ) is really a celebration of the sacrament of Holy Communion. In mediaeval times there used to be wonderful processions in which the consecrated elements were taken out of the church on this day and processed on the streets, showing that the Word made flesh was not just in a box labelled ‘church’ but in our midst, just as He was on the streets of Nazareth and Jerusalem. Rebecca Merry‘s lovely art work ( above) has the feel of those mediaeval ‘showings’ on Corpus Christi.

For my contribution to Corpus Christi I am offering here a couple of sonnets about the experience of receiving Holy Communion, each from a slightly different angle. These two sonnets will form part of Sounding the Seasons, my cycle of seventy sonnets for the Church Year which will be published later this year by the Canterbury Press.

Margot Krebs Neale has reflected on my phrases ‘He does not come in unimagined light ‘ and ‘to dye himself into experience’ with an image not simply of a stained glass window but of that dyed and refracted light itself reflected in water. I am grateful both to Rebecca and Margot for the way their work reflects on and develops mine. As always you can hear me read the poetry by clicking on the play button above each sonnet, if it appears, or on the title of the poem itself.


1 Love’s Choice

This bread is light, dissolving, almost air,

A little visitation on my tongue,

A wafer-thin sensation, hardly there.

This taste of wine is brief in flavour, flung

A moment to the palate’s roof and fled,

Even its aftertaste a memory.

Yet this is how He comes. Through wine and bread

Love chooses to be emptied into me.

He does not come in unimagined light

Too bright to be denied, too absolute

For consciousness, too strong for sight,

Leaving the seer blind, the poet mute;

Chooses instead to seep into each sense,

To dye himself into experience.

He does not come in unimagined light…


 2 Hide and Seek

Ready or not, you tell me, here I come!

And so I know I’m hiding, and I know

My hiding-place is useless. You will come

And find me. You are searching high and low.

Today I’m hiding low, down here, below,

Below the sunlit surface others see.

Oh find me quickly, quickly come to me.

And here you come and here I come to you.

I come to you because you come to me.

You know my hiding places. I know you,

I reach you through your hiding-places too;

Touching the slender thread, but now I see –

Even in darkness I can see you shine,

Risen in bread, and revelling in wine.

6 Comments

Filed under christianity, imagination, Poems

6 responses to “Two Sonnets for Corpus Christi

  1. Pingback: Therefore Let Us Keep the Feast: Corpus Christi | Wandering Tree

  2. yes what I see in the picture is that the holy water (this is Bristol Catholic cathedral) reflects the light of the window and becomes it, as the Eucharist reflects Christ in a way not “too bright to be denied”.

  3. ‘thank you Malcolm. He comes through our senses so obviously incarnate if we would pay attention.

  4. I love the lingering message in “Love’s Choice”:
    He does not come in unimagined light/Too bright to be denied….

    Reminds me just a bit of Auden and this:

    “…in spite of her prayers,
    God will cheat no one, not even the world of its triumph.” -W.H. Auden

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