“Et ait Maria…” (a poem for Christmas)

Dear readers, I hope you enjoy the following poem, another heroic crown of sonnets; above all, I wish you and your families a blessed Christmas!

Datum Romae, apud Basilicam Patriarchalem Beati Petri Apostoli, in vigilia Nativitatis Salvatoris Nostri, anno salutis MMXVI, summi principatus Francisci quarto. 

addictissimus in Domino

Et ait Maria…

My soul doth magnify the Lord of all,
for he hath multiplied His chosen race;
to those on whom the darkest gloom did fall,
he now bestows the splendor of His grace.
He gathers as the kindling for His fire
the cloaks and tramp’ling boots of conq’ring hordes
who, in their might, hath plotted to conspire
to slay his favored people by their swords.
Behold, the tyrant’s scepter lies astrewn;
his rod shall nevermore display its wrath;
and from the desert see him coming soon–
the predecessor on the winding path.
The shadows yield unto high heaven’s light
evoking from my spirit great delight.

Evoking from my spirit great delight,
His grace compels me to express in verse
melodic phrases telling of his might
which cleanses all who bear the primal curse.
To Him I sing; his triumph shall I praise;
war horse and battle chariot are felled
into the sea, and all their haughty ways
were vanquished as the angry ocean swelled.
Behold His Word descending from on high,
destroying, as it falls, the gods of gold–
a sign that heav’nly offerings must die
to purge and purify the sins of old;
wherefore He lends his eye unto the small,
regarding where His handmaiden doth fall.

Regarding where His handmaiden doth fall
beneath the crushing weight of foreign heel
and trapped within the wond’rous, hanging wall,
He waits two score and one half to reveal
that He did not forsake His favored sons;
although they erred, His covenant he kept,
remaining through the fall of many suns
as, on the banks of Babylon, they wept.
Euphrates swells with daughter Zion’s tears;
the flooding Tigris washes her of sin,
that through these tiresome, purifying years,
a new life, filled with hope, might yet begin;
and as the darkest dusk gives way to light,
resounding cries of “blessed!” take to flight.

Resounding cries of “blessed!” take to flight,
for gloriously coming from the East,
a stranger’s outstretched hand with kingly might
arrives to aid the poorest and the least.
Thus, underneath the safety of his seal,
the path of Abraham is trod once more,
until the far horizon shall reveal
the long lost sight of Zion’s open door.
The blistered, dust-caked, broken feet of those
who on that taxing journey did embark
now rhythmically exsult with no repose
as did the son of Jesse ‘fore the Ark.
I too rejoice, for He hath set me free;
yea, wondrous deeds hath He bestowed on me!

Yea, wond’rous deeds hath He bestowed on me;
in bondage, too, His love is ever known,
for at His Word, I see all terrors flee,
and in my solitude I’m ne’er alone.
For when the ranks of Argos tarry near
and men of Macedon unleash the blade,
the sight of them shan’t quicken any fear,
for in them, too, I see His might displayed.
Their bellicosity do I reject,
yet all their rigor hides a searching mind
that sons of Abraham shall soon respect;
and to this wisdom Jacob’s faith shall bind.
As I see Jew and Greek as one proclaim,
choirs raise glad hymns unto His holy name.

Choirs raise glad hymns unto His holy name,
triumphantly rejoicing without end;
on earth below, the sounds ring all the same:
from synagogue and Temple, songs ascend!
Blest be His name now and forevermore!
Who else is like the Lord enthroned on high?
Why hath the sea dried up its swelling shore?
Why hath the Jordan’s fertile bed run dry?
Why should the nations ask, “where is their God?”
Their idols are the work of human hands
who, like their makers, soon shall face the rod
of Him whom land and sea and sky commands.
No man lays claim to such paternity;
His mercy lasts unto eternity!

His mercy lasts unto eternity,
from age to age on those who render awe;
upon the bare he grants maternity;
the poor receive the favor of the Law.
Awake, my soul! Arise, O Harp and Lyre;
announce His praises in the sight of men,
and lift my pray’r like incense set on fire,
that He may pull me from the lion’s den.
In Him I trust; in Him do I confide;
unto my aid I know He shall incline;
beneath His wings shall I in love abide,
wherefore in greenest fields will I recline;
and mercy shines like justice set aflame,
revealing strength to put the proud to shame.

Revealing strength to put the proud to shame,
the faithful few find reason to withstand
the might of kings who play their bloody game
by crushsing the oppressed beneath their hand.
Yet, even in the shadow of their reign,
as gloom eclipses ev’ry ray of light,
the fire within continues to remain,
sustaining the desire to stand and fight.
By blood the hands of men were made impure;
and yet, the sacred fiery torch survived–
miraculously, stained hands helped ensure
that, ’til the eighth day, holy light arrived.
The downcast sense the coming of their hour;
in thrones of marble, kings and judges cow’r.

In thrones of marble, kings and judges cow’r;
their stone cold palaces shut out the light–
a vain attempt to pose mere worldly pow’r
upon their peoples as an endless night.
Quirinus and Augustus soon shall pass,
and Herod’s line, which drew the sword at will,
will broken be as shards of fragile glass
swept deep beneath the trash-heaped valley’s spill:
behold the fearful fate of those who live
by raising up the law of spear and sword
while never condescending to forgive–
they too shall taste the justice of the Lord;
and they– from unmarked graves where tyrants lie–
see those in lowly places lifted high.

See those in lowly places lifted high
in triumph o’er their broken shackle-chains,
for merciful the Lord hath heard their cry
and ransomed them from toil of earthly pains.
See, in the House of Bread, He nourishes
creation from a feeding trough so meek
against the ostentatious flourishes
of silk-robed madmen who devour the weak.
And there, upon the crossed and splint’ry wood,
bound tightly like a patriarch of old,
behold the True and Beautiful and Good
more precious than all incense, myrrh, and gold!
From hay and dung, not from a royal tow’r,
to Israël He lends His saving pow’r.

To Israël He lends His saving pow’r
which earth and heav’n begin to recognize–
the chants of angels multiply and flow’r;
their splendid light enlivens shepherd eyes;
and reading, as it were, angelic trails
which hurry to and fro across the sky,
the wisdom of the world peeks past the veils
that mask eternal wisdom from on high.
The eastern sages, looking up, discern
the hidden cosmic language once engraved
in hearts of men, that Gentiles too might learn
to seek the Light by which all men are saved.
The depths cry out and heaven gives reply:
meek servants glimpse His promise coming nigh.

Meek servants glimpse His promise coming nigh
and rectify the long, meand’ring road,
anticipating Him already by
enduring, from the start, the final load.
Before He says, “let children come to me,”
that late command shall sooner be fulfilled;
by Herod’s hand, the innocents will see
the Lord Himself as infant blood lies spilled.
The wind of wint’ry tempest angrily
doth grip the land with all its frigid gloom;
and blest shall all these frostbit buds e’er be,
arrayed before the Lord in perfect bloom.
His glories from the mouths of babes shall raise,
and Abram with his seed shall offer praise.

And Abram with his seed shall offer praise–
alas! the ancient off’ring of the ram
and goat and bull and dove of olden days
find consummation in th’eternal Lamb.
The seed of that first covenant survives
through Isaac, Jacob, Jesse, David, and
unto this time the seed at last arrives,
sown that its bounty might reach ev’ry land.
And deeper in the earth shall He descend;
by this terrestrial profundity,
His victory will all the more extend
its unarrestable fecundity
’til men, like angels, fly with hearts ablaze,
surmounting heaven ’til the end of days.

Surmounting heaven til the end of days,
let all the just give blessings to the Lord
whose holy ones, enraptured in His gaze,
exsult with endless canticles outpoured,
while here on earth, I ceaselessly adore
the one who willed me for His holy plan;
and dutily I serve Him whom I bore
within me, though I knew not any man;
I hail the Spirit who o’ershadowed me,
who once o’ershadowed blood-soaked lintel-posts
to bring new life; for which I happily
extol the One thrice-holy God of hosts!
Wherefore I dare repeat my prior call:
“My soul doth magnify the Lord of all!”

My soul doth magnify the Lord of all,
Evoking from my spirit great delight.
Regarding where His handmaiden doth fall,
Resounding cries of “blessed!” take to flight.
Yea, wond’rous deeds hath He bestowed me;
Choirs raise glad hymns unto His holy name.
His mercy lasts unto eternity,
Revealing strength to put the proud to shame.
In thrones of marble, kings and judges cow’r;
See those in lowly places lifted high;
To Israël He lends His saving pow’r;
Meek servants glimpse his promise coming nigh.
And Abram with his seed shall offer praise
Surmounting heaven ’til the end of days.


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