“The Annunciation” by Elizabeth Jennings

by Kim on December 18, 2011

Nothing will ease the pain to come
Though now she sits in ecstasy
And lets it have its way with her.
The angel’s shadow in the room
Is lightly lifted as if he
Had never terrified her there.

The furniture again returns
To its old simple state. She can
Take comfort from the things she knows
Though in her heart new loving burns
Something she never gave to man
Or god before, and this god grows

Most like a man. She wonders how
To pray at all, what thanks to give
And whom to give them to. “Alone
To all men’s eyes I now must go”
She thinks, “And by myself must live
With a strange child that is my own.”

So from her ecstasy she moves
And turns to human things at last
(Announcing angels set aside).
It is a human child she loves
Though a god stirs beneath her breast
And great salvations grip her side.

Elizabeth Jennings, Collected Poems (Manchester/New York: Carcanet Press, 1986), pp. 45-46.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1

Pam 12.18.11 at 10:54 pm

“It is a human child she loves
Though a god stirs beneath her breast
And great salvations grip her side.”
Lovely poem, Kim.

This is one of Elizabeth’s poems I especially like:

Bird Study

A worm writhes and you have some power
Of knowing when and where to strike.
Then suddenly bread in a shower.
Being a bird is like

This and a feathered overcoat,
A throb of sound, a balanced wing,
A quiver of the beak and throat,
A gossip-mongering.

But higher up a hawk will take
Stature of stars, a comet-fall,
Or else a swan that oars a lake,
Or one note could be all.

I am obsessed with energy
I never touch. I am alive
To what I only hear and see,
The sweep, the sharp, the drive.

2

Kim 12.19.11 at 10:32 am

One I hadn’t taken a close look at before. Thanks, Pam.

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