First Fruit of my time at Duke

My poet's eyrie in North Carolina!

My poet’s eyrie in North Carolina!

I have at last begun my Sabbatical term, and it starts with three weeks as Artist in Residence at Duke Divinity School in North Carolina, a wonderful place which is doing pioneering work in  linking Theology and the Arts. I am writing, and giving, some lectures on Herbert and Coleridge but I am also here to practice my art as a poet, and so I am posting here the first poem I have written since my arrival. I am hoping to make a new collection of sonnets about the sayings of Jesus to be called ‘Parable and Paradox’, and this one is the first to emerge, I hope you enjoy it.

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



‘He who has ears to hear let him hear’


How hard to hear the things I think I know,

To peel aside the thin familiar film

That wraps and seals your secret just below:

An undiscovered good, a hidden realm,

A kingdom of reversal, where the poor

Are rich in blessing and the tragic rich

Still struggle, trapped in trappings at the door

They never opened, Life just out of reach…


Open the door for me and take me there.

Love, take my hand and lead me like the blind,

Unbandage me, unwrap me from my fear,

Open my eyes, my heart, my soul, my mind.

I struggle with these grave clothes, this dark earth,

But you are calling ‘Lazarus come forth!’


Whilst I am here I will also be doing some poetry readings/performances which are all open to the public, so if you are in the vicinity do come along to some of them, here is the full list as it currently stands:

September 8 at 5:45-7:15 pm – “A Conversation with Malcolm Guite;” AEHS; York Room
September 11the Song/poetry performance in the Weatherspoon art Museum Auditorium, Greensboro 6:30-8pm
September 15 at 7:00pm – Dean’s Songwriter Series Concert featuring Malcolm Guite; Dean’s Office / DITA; AMCR
September 17th Poetry Reading with John Balaban at the Regulator Bookstore, 9th Street Durham 7pm
September 18 at 11:25am – Preaching in Goodson Chapel
September 24 at 7:00pm – “Mariner!  Malcolm Guite on Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’;” DITA; AMCR


Filed under literature, Poems

22 responses to “First Fruit of my time at Duke

  1. Pat Conneen

    The longing in this poem makes my chest ache.
    Thanks Malcolm. It’s good to know your muse likes to travel.

  2. K

    Thank you so much for keeping me on your email list. I think your visit as Duke is starting well….your new sonnet is moving and accessible…like your other work that I appreciate so much. Enjoy your sabbatical. Kaaren N.

  3. So glad your sabbatical is starting with promise. I really enjoyed your new poem … and I’m thrilled at the possibility of a new series of sonnets 🙂

  4. Jim

    As always God sends me a message at just the right time. Your poem has spoken to the core of a struggle I am going through right now. The words have truly freed my spirit.

  5. Julie

    Reblogged this on Anglican, Plain: My Life and the History of the World and commented:
    Beautiful new work from Malcolm Guite, the John Donne of our age!

  6. Jackie

    I enjoyed this poem very much! Thanks for sharing. You have a great generosity of spirit, Malcolm. I hope this time is fruitful for you in many ways, including spiritually nourishing for you. I hope you also have some time for rest and reflection while in the U.S. (It sounds rather busy!) 🙂
    I look forward very much to reading your new sonnets in “Parable and Paradox.”

  7. “trapped in trappings”
    I sometimes wonder if that is what Francis felt the fear of, when he stripped off everything that his father’s wealth and position had given him. A warning for our times, if ever there was one.

  8. lanciaesmith

    “Life just out of reach” – I have some sense of that nearly all the time. The sense that there is a film over me, a veil that masks my thinking and my vision of something clearer and more sharply defined, colours that are brighter, understanding that is cogent and unhindered. You so capably give words and context to what is often unutterable. Beautifully done, Malcolm.

  9. Malcolm, are you recording any of your talks (official or unofficial)? Great poem, as ever.

    • malcolmguite

      Hi yes I think Duke are recording most things and will put them on their website. I’ll post the links on this blog as I get them

  10. Pingback: I Am The Door of the Sheepfold | Malcolm Guite

  11. Pingback: World’s End; A New Advent Sonnet | Malcolm Guite

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