Dancing Through the Fire


[Editor’s note: In case you didn’t know, Malcolm Guite has an excellent collection of poetry for the seasons of Lent and Easter—one poem for each day, including classics like Dante, contemporaries like Rowan Williams, and the work of Guite himself. The collection is called The Word in the Wilderness, and it makes an excellent companion to the Lenten season. To give you a taste, here’s a poem of Guite’s called “Dancing Through the Fire.”]

Then stir my love in idleness to flame
To find at last the free refining fire
That guards the hidden garden whence I came.

O do not kill, but quicken my desire,
Better to spur me on that leave me cold.
Not maimed I come to you, I come entire,

Lit by the loves that warm, the lusts that scald,
That you may prove the one, reprove the other,
Though both have been the strength by which I scaled

The steps so far to come where poets gather
And sing such songs as love gives them to sing.
I thank God for the ones who brought me hither

And taught me by example how to bring
The slow growth of a poem to fruition
And let it be itself, a living thing,

Taught me to trust the gifts of intuition
And still to try the tautness of each line,
Taught me to taste the grace of transformation

And trace in dust the face of the divine,
Taught me the truth, as poet and as Christian,
That drawing water turns it into wine.

Now I am drawn through their imagination
To dare to dance with them into the fire,
Harder than any grand renunciation,

To bring to Christ the heart of my desire
Just as it is in every imperfection,
Surrendered to his bright refiner’s fire

That love might have its death and resurrection.

For more excellent poetry and observations throughout the season of Lent, check out The Word in the Wilderness in the Rabbit Room Store.

Artwork Credit: Sky Fire by Georgiana Romanovna

Malcolm Guite is the Chaplain of Girton College, Cambridge and author of various books on contemporary spirituality. In addition to this, he is a poet and singer-songwriter and fronts the Cambridge-based band Mystery Train. Visit www.malcolmguite.com where you can read Malcolm's blog, some of his poetry, or find out more about his music and media appearances.

1 Comment

  1. VB

    I very much like this, despite not being a poetry person.

    However, does the second line of the second stanza contain a typo? I would expect it to be “Better to spur me on than leave me cold” rather than “that” – but this may be one of those poetry things I do not grasp and am inadequately sophisticated and flexible of thought to understand (there are definitely things like that out there!). 🙂

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