Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Poems for Lent (40): ‘I see His Blood Upon the Rose,’ by Joseph Mary Plunkett

‘I see his blood upon the rose ...’

Patrick Comerford

My choice of a Poem for Lent on this Wednesday morning in Holy Week is ‘I see His Blood Upon the Rose,’ by Joseph Mary Plunkett. (1879-1916).

I have already selected a poem by Joseph Mary Plunkett this Lent, and many Irish people are so familiar with this poem from schooldays that it needs little introduction or comment.

But this poem illustrates how Plunkett was deeply influenced as a poet by his study of the mystics, including Saint John of the Cross, Saint Theresa of Avila and Saint Francis de Sales.

I also find interesting parallels with ‘The Passion’ by George Herbert:

Since blood is fittest, Lord, to write
Thy sorrows in, and bloody fight;
My heart hath store; write there, where in
One box doth lie both ink and sin:

That when sin spies so many foes,
Thy whips, thy nails, thy wounds, thy woes,
All come to lodge there, sin may say,
No room for me, and fly away.

Sin being gone, oh fill the place,
And keep possession with thy grace;
Lest sin take courage and return,
And all the writings blot or burn.


‘His body gleams amid eternal snows’ ... winter snow in Dam Street, Lichfield (Photograph: Lee Jordan)

I see His Blood Upon the Rose, by Joseph Mary Plunkett

I see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.

I see his face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but his voice – and carven by his power
Rocks are his written words.

All pathways by his feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree.

Canon Patrick Comerford is Lecturer in Anglicanism and Liturgy, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, and a canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin