Written in 2009
It was the same date as today
Ash Wednesday of that year
An opaque sky heralded
the bleak disciplines of Lent
Cremated palm leaves made soot
as fine as stoneground cornsilk
Echoes of long-past hosannas
Fading in the deadened air
Metanoia, said the purpled priest
Examine the inward heart
Don't stint a loving God who pours
out on his children all he has
Cherish not what must be left
behind. Toss in the season's pyre
security and vanity
And mercy will rain down
Was forfeiture of wine enough?
The giving of hard-earned alms?
Precious time bestowed upon the
forlorn and sick and exiled?
A rigorous schedule of
study, abstinence from all
forms of twentieth century
gluttony? And hymns of praise?
No! None of that would answer
A different sacrifice was due
My best-beloved of seven years -
bound in deep-forged chains I dare
not break - must be relinquished
Would God stoop low to pity me
as he had for Abraham
wanting no filial holocaust?
He did not spare the harrowing,
but gave me Grace to acquiesce
and view a bigger picture
Three corners is unstable
They buckle in turn and beg a fourth
Three demands death, two is viable
That Good Friday, my birthday,
swallowed my thenself in its grave
All's history today. And what
should I conclude? Some kernel of
evergreen truth was broadcast there
without a context of its own?
Wrong time! Wrong place! Wrong life! Wrong...!
But, now, its essence thrives for ever in
the Land of Resurrection where there's
no melding or giving in marriage
Carl Spitzweg - Ash Wednesday, The End of the Carnival