I have taken the liberty to name this passage from George MacDonald’s book At the Back of the North Wind and to call it a poem and to break it into lines. It seems to me to be a beautiful free verse poem. It occurs in chapter 15 as if it comes from a children’s nursery rhyme book. The mother cannot understand a word of it and calls it nonsense, but the boy thinks he has heard it before in the river’s song at the back of the North Wind. I think George was giving us a clue. [EW]
I know a river
whose waters run asleep
run ever singing
in the shallows
dumb in the hollows
sleeping so deep
and all the swallows
that dip their feathers in the hollows
or in the shallows
are the merriest swallows of all
for the nests they bake
with the clay they cake
with the water they shake
from their wings that rake
the water out of the shallows
or the hollows
will hold together in any weather Continue reading →
What does he look like? Does he come on with a smile? Is he good looking? Or, does he just think he is? He says he wants you. You know what he means. His want has nothing to do with you.
What does he look like? Does he want something from me? I’ve seen their eyes Roving, piercing, twinkling, Sneering; And hands, too, Sometimes fists, Sometimes groping, Taking what I will not give. They take me, But they cannot have me. The secret within, Some of me is yet alive Inside this death-stiff carcass.
What do I look like? I have one face and many, But you still don’t see me. I am none of those you’ve seen. I heard you crying, And I have come.
Let me live in the fire of the Ashen Altar,
Living sacrifice accepted above,
Laying my life down that others may live;
Just like my Lord has done.
“Follow me,” he calls, “in Death is Life.
The Fire has Resurrection power.
Your life laid down shall rise again
And multiply heavenly deeds.”
The title, Upon the Ashen Altar, refers to the pile of ashes outside the camp of Israel where the ashes from the Altar of Sacrifice were dumped. On the Day of Atonement each year, the bullock and the goat of Atonement were burned, outside the camp, upon those ashes.
(see Leviticus 4:12 and Leviticus 16:27)
Hebrews 13:10-13 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin [on the Day of Atonement], are burned outside the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him outside the camp, bearing his reproach.
copyright Ector Ward, 2003, permission to use only if this URL is attached
A blackened web, A close-knit shroud, Encompasses the Earth Of many words, Ideas of men, Enwoven tight and thick. Though Heaven’s light Does brightly burn Still Earth in shadow lies. A life laid down A seed to die Is planted in the crust To grow on high And burrow through The shroud both tight and thick. As leaves unfold In warmth and light The blackened web melts back.
The view in the painting is that of a sprout breaking through from under the soil to the sunlight. It also depicts the resurrected life, from a life willingly laid down, burrowing through the “blackened web.”
Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us:
and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
1 John 3:16