33 Poems: XI, XII


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 IX and X.


“Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud…”
—John 9:6

Tilth eyed,
muddling towards Siloam,
hands cupping refracted rays,
he rinses darkness
out of newborn sight—
once slackened retinae
now nerved
to perceive
the Light of the World,
by mud blind men.


‘I am the good Shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.’
—John 10:14

Keeping the wolf from the Door,
the Shepherd calls;
bringing in his own
he shames the unsound staff
of pilfering crooks who came before.
Laying down,
he wrests
a flock into his care.

This is an image from The Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript of the Gospels from the 9th century. This particular image portrays St. John the Evangelist.

Click here to explore Andrew’s blog.

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