Many years ago – the memory abides –
I was felled to the ground at the forest’s edge,
Severed from my roots. Enemies seized me,
Made of me a mark of scorn for criminals to mount on;
Shoulder-high they carried me and set me on a hill.
Many foes made me fast there. Far off then I saw
The King of all mankind coming in great haste,
With courage keen, eager to climb me…
Then the young Hero – it was God almighty –
Strong and steadfast, stripped himself for battle;
He climbed up on high gallows, constant in his purpose,
Mounted it in sight of many, mankind to ransom.
Horror seized me when the Hero clasped me,
But I dared not bow or bend down to earth.
Nor falter, nor fall; firm I needs must stand.
I was raised up a Rood, a royal King I bore,
The High King of Heaven: hold firm I must.
They drove dark nails through me, the dire wounds still show,
Cruel, gaping gashes, yet I dared not give as good.
They taunted the two of us; I was wet with teeming blood,
Streaming from the warrior’s side when he sent forth his spirit.
High upon a hill helpless I suffered
Long hours of torment; I saw the Lord of hosts
Outstretched in agony; all embracing darkness
Covered with thick clouds the corpse of the World’s Ruler,
The bright day was darkened by a deep shadow,
All its colours clouded; the whole creation wept,
Keened for its King’s fall; Christ was on the Rood.
Yet warriors from afar eagerly came speeding
To where he hung alone. All this I beheld.
He was born in an obscure village,
the child of a peasant woman.
He grew up in still another village
where he worked in a carpenter’s shop
until he was thirty.
He did none of the things one usually
associates with greatness.
He had no credentials but himself.
He was only thirty-three when
public opinion turned against him.
He was turned over to his enemies
When he was dead he was laid
in a borrowed grave.
Nineteen centuries have passed and today
he is the central figure of the human race.
No one has affected the life of man on earth
as much as that one solitary life.
This was originally a sermon written by Dr James Allan Francis in 1926. It has since become shorter and tweaked by various people and from an anonymous source.
In everyone there sleeps
A sense of life lived according to love.
To some it means the difference they could make
By loving others, but across most it sweeps
As all they might have done had they been loved.
That nothing cures.
by Philip Larkin, taken from – Visions of Love compiled by W. Sykes.