The Child and the World

‘… a young father drugged his beloved six-year-old daughter and then dropped her off the Severn Bridge. He told the police: ‘I had to do it. There was no future for her in this world, with drug addiction, prostitution and nuclear power. What a terrible world to bring up children.’ – London Daily Telegraph

It was a terrible world
And into it came a child
His mother sang for joy
That she should bear a boy
The prophets had foretold.
But he was for the world
He was not hers to hold.

He grew in grace in lakeside Galilee
The Sabbath worship, shepherds and fisher-folk,
The pungent shavings planed from plough and yoke,
Lilies and birds, the marketplace of men,
The lamplit home, seed-time and harvest. Then
The Baptist hailed him, and a dove descended.
Thirty years were ended.

Three more remained. A dark demonic world
None knew it more than he. Herod the fox,
The Baptist’s head with stony steadfast eyes,
Jerusalem, the murderer of the prophets –
He wept most for the lost shepherdless sheep,
The famished, blind, maimed, sick in body and soul,
Emptying himself to make them whole.
They followed him, then fled. The twelve he chose
Wavered: one broke, one sold him with a kiss.

Hand-washing Pilate squirmed, made efforts, buckled,
His job being on the line, and Rome relentless;
Wrote ‘King of the Jews’ and handed the prisoner over
To a criminal’s death.

Hanging, he saw has mother and his friend
At the cross’s foot
The dicing indifferent soldiers, the savage mockers
‘Father forgive, they know not what what they do’
Six torturing hours
Thirst’s agony. The psalm he knew since childhood
‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me…’
The penitent thief received to Paradise
At last ‘It is fulfilled’
His Father ’s will, in heaven, on earth,
That man with God and man be reconciled
The meaning of his birth

A terrible world it was
Into it came a child.

Poems of the Spirit