Hidden Joys; A Sonnet for the Visitation

The feast of the Visitation, on the 31st of May, celebrates the lovely moment in Luke’s Gospel (1:41-56) when Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was also against all expectations bearing a child, the child who would be John the Baptist. Luke tells us that the Holy Spirit came upon them, that the babe in Elizabeth’s womb ‘leaped for joy’ when he heard Mary’s voice, and it is even as the older woman blesses the younger, that Mary gives voice to the Magnificat, the most beautiful and revolutionary hymn in the world. There is much for the modern world to ponder in this tale of God’s blessing and prophecy on and from the margins, and i have tried to tease a little of it out in this sonnet. I am grateful again to Margot Krebs Neale for her inspiring image, and , as always you can hear the poem by clicking on the ‘play’ button or the title.

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 available in Canada via Steve Bell. It is now also out on Kindle. Please feel free to make use of this, and my other 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..

The Visitation

Here is a meeting made of hidden joys

Of lightenings cloistered in a narrow place

From quiet hearts the sudden flame of praise

And in the womb the quickening kick of grace.

Two women on the very edge of things

Unnoticed and unknown to men of power

But in their flesh the hidden Spirit sings

And in their lives the buds of blessing flower.

And Mary stands with all we call ‘too young’,

Elizabeth with all called ‘past their prime’

They sing today for all the great unsung

Women who turned eternity to time

Favoured of heaven, outcast on the earth

Prophets who bring the best in us to birth.


Filed under christianity, literature, Poems

7 responses to “Hidden Joys; A Sonnet for the Visitation

  1. Very moving – thank you. Lizzie Ballagher, blogger poet

  2. Just lovely. Thank you for both the writing and the reading aloud of this grace-kissed sonnet.

    • Lori Emond

      Thank you for this beautiful sonnet. As I leave Jerusalem today…having visited the Church of the Visitation and celebrated mass there, it has a great and profound meaning for me.

  3. W F Mmyers

    There’s a rhythm to the Liturgical year that you embrace with your poems. A spiritual flow, if I may use that current term from psychology, but first used by Hebrew poets long before. I’m delighted to join you in the dance. Thank you for inviting me. William Francis Myers, Rector Emeritus, St John’s Church, McLean, Virginia.

  4. Christine Wright

    This is beautiful. Thank you so much for allowing us to share this in our church. It is much appreciated, and our congregation find wonder in your words. Christine St Thomas, High Lane


  5. Very few can bring forth from prose the depth of theological inspiration as your work has done here. I have a sketch of Mary by Ross Wilson in which I will put these words next to as a complement.

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