Michaelmas; a sonnet for St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael at Mont St. Michell -photo by Margot Krebs Neale

Continuing my sequence from Sounding the Seasons, the collection of my sonnets for the church year, published by Canterbury Press, the 29th September brings us the feast of St. Michael and All Angels which is known as Michaelmas in England, and this first autumn term in many schools and universities is still called the Michaelmas term. The Archangel Michael is traditionally thought of as the Captain of the Heavenly Host, and, following an image from the book of Revelation, is often shown standing on a dragon, an image of Satan subdued and bound by the strength of Heaven. He is also shown with a drawn sword, or a spear and a pair of scales or balances, for he represents, truth, discernment, the light and energy of intellect, to cut through tangles and confusion, to set us free to discern and choose. He is celebrated and revered in all three Monotheistic religions. There is a good, full account of him here. And here is a bright and playful image of him by the Cambridge Artist Rebecca Merry, who has done a number of icons and other images of the Archangels. You can see more of her art here, and also in the Byard Art Gallery.

And Michael’s scale is true, his blade is bright

And here is a response to the poem from photographer Margot Krebs Neale, weaving the words at the heart of the poem into the heart-shaped image. More of Margot’s work can be seen here.

As always you can hear the poem by clicking on the ‘play’ button if it appears, or the title. Many of you have commented on how good it is to be able to hear the poems, and I’m glad thats working.

Michaelmas

Michaelmas gales assail the waning year,

And Michael’s scale is true, his blade is bright.

He strips dead leaves; and leaves the living clear

To flourish in the touch and reach of light.

Archangel bring your balance, help me turn

Upon this turning world with you and dance

In the Great Dance. Draw near, help me discern,

And trace the hidden grace in change and chance.

Angel of fire, Love’s fierce radiance,

Drive through the deep until the steep waves part,

Undo the dragon’s sinuous influence

And pierce the clotted darkness in my heart.

Unchain the child you find there, break the spell

And overthrow the tyrannies of Hell.

6 Comments

Filed under christianity, literature, Poems

6 responses to “Michaelmas; a sonnet for St. Michael the Archangel

  1. revcharmaine

    Michaelmas my favourite feast ever since it came into my awareness as a youn catholic child. It came and comes accompanied by the purple daisy that bears its name. So thankyou for this inspiring and searching sonnet. I will carry it to Sunday worship at my church – St. Michael and All Angels.

  2. Kenneth Willis

    another brilliant sonnet! i don’t know how you do it but i am glad you do. thank you!

  3. Pingback: Michaelmas; a sonnet for St. Michael the Archangel | Malcolm Guite – The Anglophilic Anglican

  4. Tamara Newell

    I am a retired Episcopal priest. Twice in my ministry I served churches named for St. Michael and all his angels. Your sonnet brought tears to my eyes. Wish I had seen this years and years ago. It is really moving.

  5. Tamara Newell

    Should have added that I am in a reading group reading The Divine Dance by Richard Rohr and to invite St. Michael to that dance is a connection that would never have dawned on me. Again, thank you.

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