Who is this,
Having walked our
Wilderness roads,
Returning with rough attire
And rougher voice, yet
Comforting this people,
Speaking tenderly to Jerusalem,
Even as their shepherds –
Snakes – receive his
Rough rewards?

What are these
Sun-lit sparkles gilding
Jordan’s surface,
If not the pearly gates
Of exile’s end, longed-for
Zion, God’s abode, whence was
Israel once expelled,
Among us now, returned –
What grace! – as if our
Banishment she earned?

What means it
Then, this homeward call,
If not that sins,
Whose’er they be,
Have been paid back, two-fold
Already, thus are this day
Forgi’en? Tense and Spirit,
Perfect both,
Proclaim’d at Jordan,
“It is finished!”

Yet surely e’en
The prodigals’ return
Is but love’s beginning;
A crumble-wall’d town
Of gladness to re-build,
Discover: mercy’s colony, to
Which nations, wetted,
Might stream, love’s (foolish)
Wisdom, justice, freedom
Now perceiving?

But how might
This perception come
Within a quenching, drowning
World, unless death-deafened
Ears, fear-muted tongues
By fire and dove be loosed, ablaze
With rumour of new joys
Sufficient loud, to raise
The proud, the weak, the lost, the dead
O Lord, today?


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