A Sonnet for Ash Wednesday

Brought from the burning of Palm Sunday’s Cross

I resume the thread of Sounding the Seasons, the sonnet sequence I have been posting here, and which is also available as a book from Canterbury Press, with this sonnet for Ash Wednesday. As I set about the traditional task of burning the remnants of last Palm Sunday’s palm crosses in order to make the ash which would bless and sign our repentance on Ash Wednesday, I was suddenly struck by the way both the fire and the ash were signs not only of our personal mortality and our need for repentance and renewal but also signs of the wider destruction our sinfulness inflicts upon God’s world and on our fellow creatures, on the whole web of life into which God has woven us and for which He also cares. So some of those themes are visited in this sonnet. As we go through Lent I will post sonnets reflecting on each of the three temptations of Christ in  the wilderness, as well as for Mothering Sunday and the Feast of the  Annunciation which also falls in Lent. And this Lent I have two special additions. the first is a link to the new Snippet Book for Lent by Steve Bell, to which I have made some contributions. Check out his snippet series HERE, and the second is an amazing new Opera by Rhiannon Randle called Temptations, which is based on my sonnets on the Temptations of Christ in the wilderness and which I will post about, with full links to audio and video, later this week.

You can buy Sounding the Seasons in the UK by ordering it from your local bookshop, or via Amazon, and I am very happy to say that both book s are now available in North America from Steve Bell who has a good supply in stock. His page for my books is HERE

As before I am grateful to Margot Krebs Neale for the remarkable commentary on these poems which she is making through her photographs. As always you can hear the poem by clicking on the title or the Play Button

Ash Wednesday

Receive this cross of ash upon your brow,
Brought from the burning of Palm Sunday’s cross.
The forests of the world are burning now
And you make late repentance for the loss.
But all the trees of God would clap their hands
The very stones themselves would shout and sing
If you could covenant to love these lands
And recognise in Christ their Lord and king.

He sees the slow destruction of those trees,
He weeps to see the ancient places burn,
And still you make what purchases you please,
And still to dust and ashes you return.
But Hope could rise from ashes even now
Beginning with this sign upon your brow.

Beginning with this sign upon your brow


Filed under christianity, literature, Poems

14 responses to “A Sonnet for Ash Wednesday

  1. caarsen

    Thank you for this. For the beauty and hope of your words.

  2. Mike Roeder

    Greeting from Coronado! Thank you for your work and these sonnets.

    I shared DESCENT by you and Steve Bell recently with an icon painting class I took in Mexico City. We’d seen the Aztec ruins and “gods” that day and it seemed right to fit in your lyrics with that ancient context.

    I’m one of the Lamb’s folks; met you a couple times there in San Diego, and at various other Lewis conferences in the US and UK. My wife and I used to live in Weybridge in the 90’s.

    My newest (namesake) icon arrived just in time for Lent.

    God bless,



    • malcolmguite

      Thanks Mike, its amazing to think of Descent being read in Mexico city! I really enjoyed meeting up with the Lambs players and performing in coronado -Magic

  3. alma brayden

    a wonderful sonnet about the destruction of God’s creation. Very moving and so appropriate for Ash Wednesday.

  4. Fenella Temmerman

    Thanks for this….Yes. Do you know Steve Bell is a Winnipeg man?

    • malcolmguite

      yes I know Steve Bell well. lovely guy. I worked with him on his Keening for the Dawn Album and we have done some gigs together

  5. Pingback: Why Lent? Why Ash Wednesday? | The Food and Faith Community at UBC

  6. mike lourim

    Thank you for this beautiful poem.


    Saltspring Island B.C.

  7. Pingback: An Ash Wednesday Sonnet by Malcolm Guite | Pastor's Postings

  8. Pingback: Annual General Meeting (5:00pm) and Tonight’s Meal | The Food and Faith Community at UBC

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