Good Friday – Christina Rossetti: a poem about Jesus’ crucifixion and the poet’s desire for a deeper response. A poem for the Easter season.
Am I a stone, and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy blood’s slow loss,
And yet not weep?
Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter, weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;
Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon –
I, only I.
Yet give not o’er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.
This is an interesting all by the Christian poet Christina Rossetti.
This poem is about “Good Friday“, the crucifixion of Jesus the Christ (The Messiah).
It has four stanzas. The first stanza speaks of the poets hardened heart. Stanza two contrast her with the women, Peter, and the thief at the crucifixion. Next, the third stanza describes even nature’s response to the crucifixion of God incarnate. Finally, in the last stanza, there is a request for Jesus to soften her heart.
Note how the first and last stanza bookend the poem with of the imagery of rock and sheep. These images of sheep are in biblical passages like Psalm 23 and John 10:11. It also uses the imagery of Moses striking the rock to bring forth water in Exodus 17:1–7. Here the analogy between water being brought forth and the poet’s tears being brought forth by the one greater than Moses is made (Hebrews 3:1-6).
This poem has an interesting line structure. Each verse is four lines. The middle two lines of each verse are 5 feet long. The first and fourth line of verses one or four and 2 feet respectively. Verse two has the first and fourth lines at 3 feet. Then verse three has them at three and 2 feet respectively. Finally, the last verse, verse four, has them both at 2 feet. In this way, the first and last verses on the whole get shorter and shorter. This speeds up the action.
The rhyme scheme is abba. That is, the first and last lines of each verse rhyme, and the middle two verses rhyme with each other.