Contribution to our poetry series on the Sarum College Blog, by Mark Pryce
‘Five Songs – a Holy Week Sequence’ – is made up of poems which emerged during the pascal season when there was a rare stillness, particularly at night – fewer cars, no aeroplanes – and skies clear of pollution to reveal an extraordinary ‘pink moon’, bright stars and sometimes the distinctive rushing of the clouds.
The images come from taking walks at night or in the early morning when the skies seemed particularly evocative of an inner, spiritual experience. The words did not come all at once but emerged as spontaneous responses to what I was observing in the world of the sky and the world of the Scripture readings, which I found myself writing down over several days after times of prayer and reflection.
These random words and phrases have since been shaped into verses – the tight, economical ‘haiku’ form of three lines of five, seven, five syllables – and then sorted into a sequence which loosely reflects the pattern of the Triduum – Maundy Thursday evening in the garden of Gethsemane: ‘Pink Moon’ and ‘Night Clouds’; Good Friday at Golgotha ‘Tree Writing’; Holy Saturday/Easter Eve desolation: ‘In Isolation’; and Easter morning as dawn breaks and the disciples go to the tomb in fear: ‘Sky, Easter Morning’.
Five Songs – A Holy Week Sequence 2020
Free in her vast sky,
beside the night-time walker’s
small head of chatter
seen with eyes which peer
through the wardrobe, looking-glass
to a world of light.
clouds flee the garden afraid
linen blowing loose.
From stretched limbs, hurt side
read what blood ink signs write out
words only touch can hear.
Tonight’s lone star peers
Venus in her clouded sky
face at a window.
Sky, Easter morning
Lingering moon casts side-way glances
to random stars on eyes’ street corners,
lookouts for first light.
Wreckage strewn across dawn’s carriageway,
mess of uncleared supper, tangled bed
after fevered nights.
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The Revd Canon Dr Mark Pryce is a visiting scholar in the Sarum College Centre for Human Flourishing. He is director of Ministry, Birmingham Diocese and Chaplain to The Queen.