Poem: “Advent Calendar” by Archbishop Rowan Williams

He will come like last leaf's fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to the bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud's folding.

He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens on mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.

He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.

He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like child.

Rowan Williams, a notorious moderate and compromising Anglican theologian, was, nonetheless, a serious patristics scholar, more than decent poet, and a man who sincerely worked for the impossible project of Anglican union.  Accused of being a neo-Medieivalist and hypocrite by the notorious leftist Bishop Spong, the ever moderate Williams responded:

I am genuinely a lot more conservative than he would like me to be. Take the Resurrection . I think he has said that of course I know what all the reputable scholars think on the subject and therefore when I talk about the risen body I must mean something other than the empty tomb. But I don't. I don't know how to persuade him, but I really don't."

Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

2 Responses

  1. Harry Colin says:

    A lovely poem that was unknown to me.

    Williams also wrote a book on Dostoevsky that is a reflection on the great author’s faith being inseparable from his writing of fiction. An enlightening read.

  2. Katherine Boyer says:

    Also unknown to me–but no longer. Many thanks.