Annunciation by Scott Cairns

Image by Linda Richardson Image by Linda Richardson

Yesterday we considered a poem by John Donne, today we pair and compare it with a poem of the same title by Scott Cairns. I draw out some of the parallels and differences in the brief essay on this poem in my Advent Anthology from Canterbury Press Waiting on the Word. The image above  was created by Linda Richardson in her book of visual responses to Waiting on the Word. Linda writes:

This poem spoke particularly to my Celtic ancestry and my earthy upbringing in a farming community. As children we spent good days outside throwing dried cow pats and crab apples at each other and stacking bales of hay. I confess that without Malcolm’s commentary I would have wallowed in the lovely words of this poem without necessarily returning to Genesis at all!

The work I made is on brown wrapping paper and is full of rich earth colours. I tore a hole in the paper, leaving the virgin white paper showing through and surrounding the hole with large stitches in thick embroidery cotton. It is meant to suggest a radiating of light, or perhaps a womb, or the homeliness of stitching.

You can find my short reflective essay on this poem in Waiting on the Word, which is now also available on Kindle and you can hear me reading the poem by clicking on the ‘play’ button or the title.

Annunciation by Scott Cairns

Deep within the clay, and O my people

very deep within the wholly earthen

compound of our kind arrives of one clear,

star-illumined evening a spark igniting

once again the tinder of our lately

banked noetic fire. She burns but she

is not consumed. The dew lights gently,

suffusing the pure fleece. The wall comes down.

And—do you feel the pulse?—we all become

the kindled kindred of a King whose birth

thereafter bears to all a bright nativity.



Filed under imagination

9 responses to “Annunciation by Scott Cairns

  1. Catherine Bond

    Dear Malcolm,

    We are really loving these posts of yours and are listening to them and reading your book with the comments. This is our main spiritual commitment in Advent.

    I just wondered if you might be able to post them any earlier in the day or even the night before as we want to do them first thing as part of our morning worship? Other people might be doing the same thing.

    Sorry if I am being too demanding…

    With very Best wishes, hope all is well with you and the family,



    From: “” Reply-To: Malcolm Guite Date: Wednesday, 4 December 2019 at 10:18 To: “” Subject: [New post] Annunciation by Scott Cairns

    malcolmguite posted: ” Image by Linda RichardsonYesterday we considered a poem by John Donne, today we pair and compare it with a poem of the same title by Scott Cairns. I draw out some of the parallels and differences in the brief essay on this poem in my Advent Antholog” Respond to this post by replying above this line

    New post on Malcolm Guite

    Annunciation by Scott Cairns by malcolmguite Image by Linda Richardson

    Yesterday we considered a po

    • malcolmguite

      Thanks. Will try the night before but of course I am operating in several different time zones. They’ve all been posted before though so if you search in the ‘search’ box on the right hand side you’ll always find the one you want

    • David C Brown

      Or, Malcolm must be too polite say, buy the book!

  2. David C Brown

    The *pulse” gives a sense of how God has come within our range in Christ.

  3. darrellaharris2014

    Beautiful and deeply resonant works, all, padre.

    However, might I pose perhaps a philistine question? Why something on the Annunciation during Advent?

    Thanks for all, dear brother, dear father~ darrell a. harris

    Sent from my iPad


  4. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Pingback: Inspiring Poem – "Annunciation" by Scott Cairns — from Featured Blog by Malcolm Guite – Flowering Poverello

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