A Sonnet for the Annunciation

We miss the shimmer of the angels’ wings

Monday April 8th is the feast of the Annunciation, that blessed moment of awareness, assent and transformation in which eternity touches time. In my own small take on this mystery I have thought about vision, what we allow ourselves to be aware of, and also about freedom, the way all things turn on our discernment and freedom.

I am posting this sonnet a couple of days in advance of the day itself as I know some churches may keep the feast on the Sunday, the day before and they may like to make use of it.This sonnet is drawn from my collection Sounding the Seasons, published by Canterbury Press here in England. The book is now back in stock on both Amazon UK and USA and physical copies are shortly to be available in Canada via Steve Bell‘s Signpost Music. The book is now also out on Kindle. Please feel free to make use of these sonnets in church services and to copy and share them. If you can mention the book from which they are taken that would be great.

As so often I am indebted to Margot Krebs Neale for the accompanying images, and she has kindly offered the following note for the images that accompany this sonnet:

‘As I was making suggesting a picture for another sonnet, Malcolm said he was working on the Annunciation sonnet. A little cheeky I sent a picture of a beautifully blurred lily wondering if it might help. Malcolm liked it and could see angel wings in it, I thought we needed a face. A young woman of sixteen. One of the many 16 years old I know and love or…myself. I remembered and found this picture of me taken when I was 16 or 17. Why me? Because of the “We” of the first strophe, I read it like an “I” : We see so little, only surfaces, and yet we have a choice.

« Quel fruit lumineux portons-nous dans l’ombre de la chair? » What luminous fruit do we carry in the shade of our flesh?

« un fruit éternel enfant de la chair et de l’Esprit ». An eternal fruit, child of the flesh and the Spirit »

May we be granted the joy of giving it to the light.’

As usual you can hear the poem by clicking on the ‘play’ buton or on the title.


We see so little, stayed on surfaces,

We calculate the outsides of all things,

Preoccupied with our own purposes

We miss the shimmer of the angels’ wings,

They coruscate around us in their joy

A swirl of wheels and eyes and wings unfurled,

They guard the good we purpose to destroy,

A hidden blaze of glory in God’s world.

But on this day a young girl stopped to see

With open eyes and heart. She heard the voice;

The promise of His glory yet to be,

As time stood still for her to make a choice;

Gabriel knelt and not a feather stirred,

The Word himself was waiting on her word.

but on thi day a young girl stopped to see


Filed under imagination, literature, Theology and Arts

17 responses to “A Sonnet for the Annunciation

  1. Kaaren Nowicki

    Thank you for another lovely poem and image. I only found you just before Lent this year, and I appreciate your company.
    From what source does the French quote come?

    • malcolmguite

      Thanks Kaaren the French poem is by Margot Krebs Neale and you’ll see some more about it and the full text in the comments below

  2. Wonderful. May I ask if Margot is French? The language adds different dimensions to the words. I love prayer in French – hence my question. Maybe you write sonnets en francais ?

  3. Marie, c’est le Christ que tu portes dans l’ombre de la chair
    Il est encore dans les entrailles pour un peu de temps
    Tu vas le donner à la lumière du monde, lui la lumière éternelle.

    Marie, quel fruit lumineux portons-nous dans l’ombre de la chair ?
    Aide-nous à le porter encore une peu de temps sans le voir

    Donne-nous aussi la joie d’une naissance
    La naissance d’un fruit éternel, enfant de la chair et de l’Esprit
    Porté, mûri, attendu, donné

    Avent 2004
    Margot Krebs Neale

    Voilà! Et oui elle est française 🙂

  4. Superbe et merci beaucoup – je n’ai plus de mots!

  5. Bethany

    This is so thoughtful and touching. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  6. Stunning Malcolm, thank you . . . the whirl remains.

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  8. Thanks for this beauty Malcolm and for your generosity in allowing it to be shared freely. I have just been on the Amazon UK page and I loved the illustration on the cover of your book Sounding The Seasons. Who is the artist ?

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