An Advent Villanelle
“And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light.” – Exodus 13: 21
“Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness and put upon us the armor of light.” – Collect for the First Sunday in Advent, The Book of Common Prayer
The year begins anew; and yet again
We try – or wish to try – to cast away
Thick darkness from our cloudy hearts. Decay
Seems omnipresent: clouds without a ray
Of fire by night, still ominous by day.
New calendars begin; and yet again
We try by human power to clear the gray
Above us, but neglect the clouds within –
Thick darkness of our cloudy hearts’ decay.
Our visions for a brighter earth still strain
Belief. They end – in storm clouds of dismay,
Each year – our futile plots to start again.
We think by mortal might to cast away
Accumulated clouds; we plot in vain,
Our darkened human hearts in deep decay.
Through daybreak’s clouds return, immortal Son:
Begin to show your undiminished Day.
Work sunrise in our darkened hearts; delay
No more; cleave Advent’s clouds, and come again.
Cynthia Erlandson is a poet and fitness professional. Her three collections are These Holy Mysteries, poems for the church year; Notes on Time, a tribute to the themes of time and music; and Foundations of the Cross and Other Bible Stories. Her poems have appeared in The Book of Common Praise hymnal, First Things, The Society of Classical Poets, The Catholic Poetry Room, Modern Age, and elsewhere. She is a Top Four winner of the 2023 Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest.
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