Parable and Paradox: Jacob Wrestles with the Angel

Jacob Wrestles with the Angel

Jacob Wrestles with the Angel

In the run-up to the launch this June my new collection of poetry Parable and Paradox, I am posting some of the poems in it in advance. Today’s poem is the sonnet which goes with the painting on the cover of the new book. Jacob Wrestles with the Angel is one in a suite of five sonnets on the theme of Wilderness which were originally composed in response to a set of paintings by Adan Boulter and exhibited in Lent 2015 at St. Margaret’s Westminster . I refer to that in the lead-up to my reading of this sonnet.

My poem is voiced for Jacob in his life-changing encounter, that long wrestle in the dark that will change his name to Israel and change his future and ours for ever. This meeting with an angel is the harbinger of his dramatic encounter and reconciliation with his wronged brother Esau, the brother-victim he had deceived but in whose face he now recognises the face of God. Though I have voiced this poem for Jacob, it is written in full consciousness that his story is also ours, that we too, in our brokenness and alienation must also wrestle with, and be changed by the Love that wounds and heals.

Parable and Paradox is available to order on Amazon here and in the USA and will be available from May 30th

As always you can hear me read the poem by clicking on the title or the play button

2 Jacob Wrestles with the Angel


I dare not face my brother in the morning,

I dare not look upon the things I’ve done,

Dare not ignore a nightmare’s dreadful warning,

Dare not endure the rising of the sun.

My family, my goods, are sent before me,

I cannot sleep on this strange river shore,

I have betrayed the son of one who bore me,

And my own soul rejects me to the core.


But in the desert darkness one has found me,

Embracing me, He will not let me go,

Nor will I let Him go, whose arms surround me,

Until he tells me all I need to know,

And blesses me where daybreak stakes it’s claim,

With love that wounds and heals; and with His name.


Filed under christianity, literature, paintings

10 responses to “Parable and Paradox: Jacob Wrestles with the Angel

  1. Tee

    Love it! You express so poignantly what is for me one of the most powerful encounters in the Bible. I’ve always been particularly partial to the story of Jacob’s wrestle, as it mirrors the way things have unfolded in my own journey. That line “Nor will I let Him go, whose arms surround me/
    Until he tells me all I need to know” speaks my truth more than you can know. Thank you for sharing, and blessings of success for your book!

  2. Suzie Peterson

    It is not a new experience to me to have a poem or song touch me deeply. But yours so consistently do that! A Deep ache, follows so many of your writings, after I read or hear them.
    This is so painfully beautiful…. Again
    Thank you
    Did you get pour passport fixed? Will you be at Kindlings this year?

    • malcolmguite

      Hi thanks I’m glad my poems have touched you in that way. Yes I’ve got a visa now so Kindlings should be fine tho as you may know it is now a smaller version called ‘Sparks’ just at the weekend

  3. With love that wounds and heals — OH!!! So true.

  4. Beautiful, Malcolm! Can’t wait for its release. I love your work. These lines stirred me into reflecting on our dark night of the soul experiences whereby we finally have a sense of God having been there all along, sitting in the ashes with us:
    “But in the desert darkness one has found me,
    Embracing me, He will not let me go”
    So thankful that God’s love is all embracing and He will not let us go.

  5. Lizzi

    I love this and the vine poem, and have pre-ordered the book. This comment is very pedantic, but there’s no need for the apostrophe in the ‘its’ of the penultimate line. Best wishes for the book launch!

  6. Glenys

    I have just received your previous book and am delighted. I daresay you have a good proof reader but in this poem there is an unnecessary apostrophe in its.(NO apostrophe unless it’s short for it is.)

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