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Poems for Easter


Rex Mundi

I heard a herald's note announce the coming of a king.

He who came sounding his approach was a small boy;
The household trumpet that he flourished a tin toy.

Then from a bench beneath the boughs that lately Spring
Had hung again with green across the avenue, I rose
To render to the king who came the homage subjects owe.

And as I waited, wondered why it was that such a few
Were standing there with me to see him pass; but understood
As soon as he came into sight, this was a monarch no
Crowds of this world can recognize, to hail him as they should.

He drove past in a carriage that was drawn by a white goat;
King of the world to come where all that shall be now is new.
Calmly he gazed on our pretentious present that is not.

Of morals, classes, business, war, this child
Knew nothing. We were pardoned when he smiled.

If you hear it in the distance, do not scorn the herald's note.

David Gascoyne



Even this suburb has overcome death.
Overnight, by a slow explosion, or
A rapid burning, it begins again
Bravely disturbing the brown ground
With grass and even more elaborate
Unnecessaries such as daffodiIs
And tulips, till the whole sordid block
Of houses turned so inward on themselves,
So keeping of a winter's secret sleep,
Looks like a lady's hat, improbably
Nodding with life, with blue jays hooting
And pigeons caracoIing up among
The serious chimney pots, and pairs
Of small birds speeding behind the hedges
Readying to conceal them soon. Here,
Even here, Death has been vanquished again,
\Vhat was a bramble of green barbed wire
Becomes forsythia, as the long war
Begins again, not by our doing or desiring.

Howard Nemerov



The first flower grows as high as the sunshine.
The second flower, more deeply planted,
Tilts up its muzzle yet, its serpentine
Light-seeking head, and body slanted.
And one curves deeply skirting by a stone,
And one flower rides the air upright.
These all look one way, as if a wind had blown,
And stretch one way, to grasp the light.

And in a dream I saw a flower that bent
From earth almost to earth its stem
And did not go the way the others went,
And yet was beautiful like them.

EJ Scovell


A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear;
Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,
Exalted manna, gladness of the best,
Heaven in ordinary, man well dressed,
The milky way, the bird of Paradise,
Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the soul's blood,
The land of spices; something understood.

George Herbert


Sedulius Scottus

A student's prayer

I read or write, I teach or wonder what is truth,
I call upon my God by night and day.
I eat and freely drink, I make my rhymes,
And snoring sleep, or vigil keep and pray.
And very ware of all my shames I am;
0 Mary, Christ, have mercy on your man.

translated from the Latin by Helen Waddell


Easter Sunday

Last night did Christ the Sun rise from the dark,
The mystic harvest of the fields of God,
And now the little wandering tribes of bees
Are brawling in the scarlet flowers abroad.
The winds are soft with birdsong; all night long
Darkling the nightingale her descant told,
And now inside church doors the happy folk
The Alleluia chant a hundredfold.
O father of thy folk, be thine by right
The Easter joy, the threshold of the light.

translated from the Latin by Helen Waddell


i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any - lifted from the no
of all nothing - human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)