33 Poems for Lent: V, VI


For Lent this season, our friend Andrew Roycroft (pastor and poet from Northern Ireland) has adopted the medieval practice of writing thirty-three poems, each thirty-three words long—one word for each year of Jesus’ life. Together, they form a constellation of commentary on the Gospel of John. Each week until Easter we will share more; here are poems V and VI.


“Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?'”
—John 3:4

This fleshly arm,
mechanism of muscled bone,
pulse and impulse
set in chain,
cannot open a mother’s womb
nor heaven’s gate;
instead the Rabbi speaks
the wind-borne work
of being born again.


“And he had to pass through Samaria.”
—John 4:4

At Jacob’s well, Jacob’s Son
comes alone, weary for water.
A tarnished bride, midday travel
through adulterous hills
discovers to her
who, emptying himself, will one day
fill Sychar’s sons and daughters.

This is an image from The Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript of the Gospels from the 9th century. This particular page is the first from John’s gospel: “In principio bid erat verbum” translates to “In the beginning was the Word.”

Click here to explore Andrew’s blog.


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