Palm Sunday: A Sonnet

image courtesy of

image courtesy of Lancia Smith

We come now, on Palm Sunday, to the beginning of Holy Week: a strange Palm Sunday, a strange Holy Week, in which we cannot make the outward and visible journeys and gestures, exchanges and gatherings that have always bodied forth the inner meaning of this week; the procession of palm crosses, the choral singing of hosannah, all those things that echo the events of the first Palm Sunday.

But the inner journey is more necessary than ever, and in the sonnets that follow I have explored the truth that what was happening ‘out there’ and ‘back then’ as Christ entered Jerusalem is also happening  ‘in here’ and ‘right now’. There is a Jerusalem of the heart. Our inner life also has its temple and palaces, its places of corruption, its gardens of rest, its seat of judgement.

In the sequence of sonnets which begins today I invite you to walk with Christ, and let him walk with you on both an outer and an inner journey that leads to the cross and beyond.

This sonnet, and the others I will be posting for Holy Week are all 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 also out on Kindle.

Do feel free to reproduce these poems for any Church services in which you may wish to use them, just include a line to say “From Sounding the Seasons, by Malcolm Guite, CanterburyPress 2012”

As before I am grateful to Lancia Smith and  Margot Krebs Neale for the evocative images that accompany these poems. Of the image at the beginning of this post she writes:

– Who stands in the eye of the camera? behind that gate?
– The Savior? or me looking out and seeing in my fellow being an incarnation of the Saviour?

and for the image below she says: ‘this wax the child is melting could symbolise this resistance which becomes the source, the stock of the light that comes from us.’

As always you can hear the poem by clicking on the ‘play’ button below or on the title of the poem

Palm Sunday

Now to the gate of my Jerusalem,

The seething holy city of my heart,

The saviour comes. But will I welcome him?

Oh crowds of easy feelings make a start;

They raise their hands, get caught up in the singing,

And think the battle won. Too soon they’ll find

The challenge, the reversal he is bringing

Changes their tune. I know what lies behind

The surface flourish that so quickly fades;

Self-interest, and fearful guardedness,

The hardness of the heart, its barricades,

And at the core, the dreadful emptiness

Of a perverted temple. Jesus  come

Break my resistance and make me your home.

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Filed under imagination

22 responses to “Palm Sunday: A Sonnet

  1. Kathy Emmens

    Thank you. Wonderful.

  2. Philippe Garmy

    So many walls to break down…too many to count. But just for today, Lord, I give you my clumsy and broken willfulness. Help me stay the course through this long day and struggling night…that in your loving grasp, I may desire more and continue my pilgrimage home in you.

    • malcolmguite

      Thanks – a Prayer we can all share

      • Philippe Garmy

        Bonjour Malcolm! I am new to your blog and poetry. I stumbled onto your site via the Word on Fire Institute and Holly Ordway. Thank you for your many moving and stirring contributions. Your poems for me seem like bridges connecting time and eternity, that most holy paradox…inviting and evoking the sanctity of life aloud and in quiet reflection, the beauty, mystery and wonders of creation. They are filled to the brim with such goodness and resounding truth, as to inspire, affirm and leave you thirsting (like a child) for more. Glad to know I’ve got your creative voice, vision and art to accompany me on this life journey. Wishing you and yours a blessed Holy Week!

  3. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:


  5. malissa kilpatrick

    Yes. Amen

  6. Stefanie Brickey

    Just the prayer and heart-journey my heart needed to take this morning. I so appreciate your authentic challenges to the soul and the way it connects to both the beauty and mystery of our world. Returns me to real and grounded hope every time.

  7. This really spoke to my heart today. Thank you, Malcolm.

  8. … and make me your home … Malcolm Guite
    Thank you so much. That is a prayer I can remember.

  9. Pingback: Echoes from Eternity 12. Two for Palm Sunday – Quaerentia

  10. Manuel Serrano

    Thank you for a sonnet of inviting the humble rider of a donkey to break my resistance and make me his home.

  11. Reminds me of that Donne poem, “Batter my heart, three-person’d God” or perhaps the line “nor ever chaste, unless Thou ravish me”.

  12. Deborah

    The way you sculpt words touches my soul so deeply. This poem a gift to me today. I wave my “palms/hands” to you this Palm Sunday of isolation and praise to the Word who became flesh and walks with us even now. Thanks

  13. MJH

    I had the pleasure of hearing my brother read this at the close of his sermon over Zoom yesterday, joining his parish in rural Manitoba from my dining room in Ottawa!

  14. MJH

    Reblogged this on Classically Christian and commented:
    I wanted to post something each day for Holy Week but missed yesterday. In lieu of that, here’s a worthy sonnet from Malcolm Guite, which my brother read out at the close of his sermon (we beamed in to Manitoba from Ottawa for church yesterday!).

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