The feast of the Visitation, which falls 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, and 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 . 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..
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.
6 responses to “Hidden Joys: A Sonnet for the Visitation”
I especially like « women who turned eternity to time »
I find this phrase so full of insight.
“And Mary stands with all we call ‘too young’,
Elizabeth with all called ‘past their prime’”
This sonnet always brings tears to my eyes. The story itself is so moving but you have found the kernel of why it is. Women, old and young, in a man’s world.
Lovely. I’m writing a spoken word audio piece for Pentecost, and like how you draw out the Spirit’s early flaming in this story.
Was good too to hear one of your poems on the Something Understood Radio 4 programme on Sunday, theme language & learning
Lovely poem, Malcom’m. Your writing toches the heart. Craig Anderson. USA