Tag Archives: Fra Angelico

H. Baptisme [II]

The Presentation of Christ in the Temple. Fra Angelico. 1433.
The Presentation of Christ in the Temple. Fra Angelico. 1433.

 H. Baptisme [II]

George Herbert


Since, Lord to thee

A narrow way and a little gate

Is all the passage, on my infancy

Thou didst lay hold, and antedate

My faith in me.

O let me still

With thee great God, and me a child:

Let me soft and supple to thy will,

Small to myself, to others mild,

Behither ill.

Although by stealth

My flesh gets on, yet let her sister

My soul bid nothing, but preserve her wealth:

The growth of flesh is but a blister;

Childhood is health.

The Annunciation

The Annunciation. Fra Angelico. 1440.


The Annunciation

Denise Levertov


Hail, space for the uncontained God.—Agathistos Hymn, Greece


We know the scene: the room, variously furnished,

almost always a lectern, a book; always

the tall lilly.

Arrived on solemn grandeur of great wings,

the angelic ambassador, standing or hovering,

whom she acknowledges, a guest. But we are told of meek

obedience. No one mentions


The engendering Spirit

did not enter her without consent.

God waited. She was free

to accept or to refuse, choice

integral to humanness.


Aren’t there annunciations

of one sort or another

in most lives?

Some unwillingly

undertake great destinies,

enact them in sullen pride,


More often

those moments

when roads of light and storm

open from darkness in a man or woman,

are turned away from

in dread, in a wave of weakness, in despair

and with relief.

Oridnary lives continue.

God does not smite them.

But the gates close, the pathway vanishes.


She had been a child who played, ate, slept

like any other child—but unlike others,

wept only for pity, laughed

in joy not triumph.

Compassion and intelligence fused in her, indivisible.


Called to a destiny more momentous

than any in all of Time,

she did not quail,

only asked

a simple, ‘How can this be?’

and gravely, courteously,

took to heart the angel’s reply,

perceiving instantly

the astounding ministry she was offered: to bear in her womb

Infinite weight and lightness; to carry

in hidden, finite inwardness,

nine months of Eternity; to contain

in slender vase of being,

the sum of power—

in narrow flesh,

the sum of light.

The bring to birth,

push out into air, a Man-child

needing, like any other,

milk and love—but who was God.

Holy Sonnets

Annunciation. Fra Angelico. 1434.


Holy Sonnets

John Donne, 1610


La Corona.

Deign at my hands this crown of prayer and praise,

Weav’d in my low devout melancholy,

Thou which of good hast, yea, art treasury,

All changing unchag’d Ancient of days.

But do not, with a vile crown of frail bays

Reward my muse’s white sincerity,

But what thy thorny crown gain’d, that give me,

A crown of Glory which doth flower always;

The ends crown our works, but thou crown’st our ends,

For, at our end begins our endless rest,

The first last end, now zealously possest,

With a strong sober thirst, my soul attends.

‘Tis time that the heart and voice be lifted high,

Salvation to all that will is nigh.



Salvation to all that will is nigh,

That All, which always is All every where,

Which cannot sin, and yet all sins must bear,

Which cannot die, yet cannot choose but die,

Lo, faithful Virgin, yields himself to lie

In prison, in thy womb; and though he there

Can take no sin, nor thou give, yet he will wear,

Taken from thence, flesh, which death’s force may try.

Ere by the sphere’s time was created, thou

Wast in his mind, who is thy Son and Brother;

Whom thou conceiv’st, conceiv’d; yea, thou art now

Thy Maker’s maker, and thy Father’s mother,

Thou hast light in dark, and shutst in little room,

Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb.



Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb

Now leaves his wellbelov’d imprisonment.

There he hath made himself to his intent

Weak enough, now into our world to come.

But, oh, for thee, for him, hath th’ Inn no room?

Yet lay him in this stall, and from the Orient

Stars and wisemen will travel to prevent

The effect of Herod’s jealous general doom.

Seest thou, my Soul, with thy faith’s eyes, how he

Which fills all place, yet none holds him, doth lie?

Was not his pity towards thee wondrous high,

That would have need to be pitied by thee?

Kiss him, and with him into Egypt go,

With his kind mother, who partakes thy woe.



With his kind mother who partakes thy woe,

Joseph, turn back; see where your child doth sit,

Blowing, yea blowing out those sparks of wit

Which himself on the Doctors did bestow.

The Word but lately could not speak, and, lo,

It suddenly speaks wonders. Whence comes it

That all which was, and all which should be writ,

A shallow-seeming child should deeply know?

His Godhead was not soul to his manhood,

Nor had time mellowed him to this ripeness,

But as for one which hath a long task, ’tis good

With the Sun to begin his business.

He in his age’s morning thus began

By miracles exceeding power of man.



By miracles exceeding power of man,

He faith in some, envy in some begat,

For, what meek spirits admire, ambitious hate;

In both affections many to him ran.

But Oh! the worst are most; they will and can,

Alas, and do unto the immaculate,

Whose creature Fate is, now do prescribe a Fate,

Measuring self-life’s infinity to a span,

Nay, to an inch. Lo, where condemned  he

Bears his own cross with pain, yet by and by,

When it bears him, he must bear more and die.

Now thou art lifted up, draw me near to thee,

And at thy death giving such liberal dole,

Moist, with one drop of thy blood, my dry soul.



Moist, with one drop of thy blood; my dry soul

Shall (though she now in extreme degree

Too stony hard, and yet too fleshly) be

Freed by that drop, from being starv’d, hard, or foul.

And life, by this death abled, shall control

Death, whom thy death slew; nor shall to me

Fear of first or last death bring misery,

If in thy little book my name thou enroll.

Flesh in that long sleep is not putrified,

But made that there, of which and for which ’twas,

Nor can by other means be glorified.

May then sins sleep, and deaths soon from me pass,

That wak’t from both, I again risen may

Salute the last and everlasting day.



Salute the last and everlasting day,

Joy at the uprising of this Sun and Son,

Ye whose just tears or tribulation

Have purely washt or burnt your drossie clay;

Behold the Highest, parting hence away,

Lightens the dark clouds which he treads upon,

Nor doth he by ascending show alone,

But first he, and he first enters the way.

O strong Ram, which hath batter’d heaven for me;

Mild Lamb, which with thy blood hast mark’d the path;

Bright torch, which shinest that I the way may see;

O, with thine own blood quench thine own just wrath,

And if thy Holy Spirit my Muse did raise,

Deign at my hands this crown of prayer and praise.