Friday, 22 April 2011

My heart, have you no wisdom thus to despair?

When I was in highschool, we studied this poem by James Joyce:

I HEAR an army charging upon the land,
And the thunder of horses plunging, foam about their knees:
Arrogant, in black armour, behind them stand,
Disdaining the reins, with fluttering whips, the charioteers.

They cry unto the night their battle-name:
I moan in sleep when I hear afar their whirling laughter.
They cleave the gloom of dreams, a blinding flame,
Clanging, clanging upon the heart as upon an anvil.

They come shaking in triumph their long, green hair:
They come out of the sea and run shouting by the shore.
My heart, have you no wisdom thus to despair?
My love, my love, my love, why have you left me alone?

I don't really remember what we learned about it, but I know we studied it, and it stuck with me. Years later, when I was caught up in the mire of depression and the turmoil of a failing relationship, it expressed my fear and bewilderment better than anything else.

This week has been kindof all Passions, all week. In addition to the standard Palm Sunday Passion liturgy, there was an afternoon Palm Sunday devotion including the music of Stainer and Maunder. There was the Bach St John Passion on Tuesday night at St Paul's Cathedral. At Nearest Church we had Stations of the Cross on Wednesday, and then today the Passion was read again.

I keep hearing this, in various transliterations:
אֵלִי אֵלִי לָמָה עֲזַבְתָּנִי
(Usually translated as "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?")

And in my head, this year, it has been associated with the last line of that poem as much as with Psalm 22. It's odd, the connections a mind will make. I don't know what triggered it. I just know that I imagine Jesus on the Cross, crying out to God, and somehow these are the words:

My love, my love, my love, why have you left me alone?

1 comment:

UKViewer said...

During Lent the two Psalms which seem to have been echoing for me have been 55 and 139.

139 speaks so much of how God knows us inside out, his love for us - how can we resist.

55 speaks to me of placing all our trust in him.

Which are themes that I have been trying to work through in a discipleship course. Wonderful how ancient words can so resonate today.

Cast your cares on the LORD
and he will sustain you;
he will never let
the righteous be shaken

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.