Portrait: Perspective in poetry

On some days shrieking, wild laughter, emphatic denials, and carrying-on are needed to accurately express emotions. Similarly, poetry can express confusion, questions, and wonder. I found these two pieces compiled in a book called a Portrait of Jesus: The Life of Christ in Poetry and Prose Illustrated with Famous Paintings And DrawingsThey give a unique perspective of people who may have been around Jesus in His last hours on earth. In the hardest times, you catch a glimpse of who someone is when all reputation, wealth, and ambition are stripped away. What did people see when they looked at Jesus?

Simon The Cyrenian Speaks

Countee Cullen

He never spoke a word to me,
And yet He called my name;
He never gave a sign to me,
And yet I knew and came.
At first I said, “I will not bear
His cross upon my back;
He only seeks to place it there
Because my skin is black.”

But He was dying for a dream,
And He was very meek,
And in His eyes there shone a gleam
Men journey far to seek.

It was Himself my pity bought;
I did for Christ alone
What all of Rome could not have wrought
With bruise of lash or stone.

He was despised and rejected by men;
    a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

Good Friday

by Christina Rossetti

Am I a stone and not a sheep

That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy Cross,
To number drop by drop Thy Blood’s slow loss,
And yet not weep?

Not so those women loved

Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;
Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon—
I, only I.

Yet give not o’er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.

God, how can I not be moved by the story of Jesus? He was innocent. But God, thank You that He was more than just a man dying for a dream that lived on in martyr’s legend. God, this was a plan You laid out that demonstrated love and outwitted evil. How far would You go to love us? That far! Please help me to trust You and share my wonder at Your love. Thank You. Amen.


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