Friday, 10 April 2009

Good Friday: Edwin Muir.

The Killing

That was the day they killed the Son of God
On a squat hill-top by Jerusalem.
Zion was bare, her children from their maze

Sucked by the dream of curiosity

Clean through the gates.
The very halt and blind

Had somehow got themselves up to the hill.

After the ceremonial preparation,

The scourging, nailing, nailing against the wood,

Erection of the main-trees with their burden,
While from the hill rose an orchestral wailing,
They were there at last, high up in the soft spring day.

We watched the writhings, heard the moanings, saw

The three heads turning on their separate axles

Like broken wheels left spinning.
Round his head

Was loosely bound a crown of plaited thorn

That hurt at random, stinging temple and brow

As the pain swung into its envious circle.

In front the wreath was gathered in a knot

That as he gazed looked like the last stump left

Of a death-wounded deer's great antlers.
Who came to stare grew silent as they looked,
Indignant or sorry. But the hardened old

And the hard-hearted young, although at odds

From the first morning, cursed him with one curse,

Having prayed for a Rabbi or an armed Messiah

And found the Son of God. What use to them

Was a God or a Son of God?
Of what avail
For purposes such as theirs?
Beside the cross-foot,
Alone, four women stood and did not move
All day. The sun revolved, the shadows wheeled,

The evening fell. His head lay on his breast,

But in his breast they watched his heart move on

By itself alone, accomplishing its journey.

Their taunts grew louder, sharpened by the knowledge
That he was walking in the park of death,
Far from their rage. Yet all grew stale at last,

Spite, curiosity, envy, hate itself.

They waited only for death and death was slow

And came so quietly they scarce could mark it.

They were angry then with death and death's deceit.

I was a stranger, could not read these people

Or this outlandish deity. Did a God

Indeed in dying cross my life that day

By chance, he on his road and I on mine?

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