Lazarus

The love of many had already grown cold
In ageless fear they stoke the flame
And no one knew to call its name
Wondering when the new was old
For iron does not age like gold;

To those asleep they think to call
To wake; Wake! They say as though
They called to Lazarus, time ago
When His beloved friend did fall
Asleep; He the Master of all;

Four days he lay dead in the grave
“He stinks,” they said in shame,
“Open not”, but “As you will,” the same
said they who lived, but were slave
To death; both the meek and the brave;

Did Lazarus call out to be raised?
Those whose hearts are already dead
Four days dead, stuffed toe to head
Laid separate so that not one gazed
On another in a state so crazed;

I speak of us, you who read
But I suppose you had already guessed
Lazarus is us; we must have confessed
Will the dead save the world indeed
Will the dead meet its need?

Do the dead tell tales or speak
Do they wake up the sleeping ones
Do they make a sound, as drums
Make a sound; brave or meek
Are they either strong or weak?

“Lazarus, come out,” the Master said
Who is the unquenchable flame–
We must understand he called by name
That only Lazarus would raise his head
That he would not raise all of the dead.

I will also share a Chesterton poem with you which is also appropriate to the day (This being Lazarus Saturday;)

The Convert

After one moment when I bowed my head
And the whole world turned over and came upright,
And I came out where the old road shone white,
I walked the ways and heard what all men said,
Forests of tongues, like autumn leaves unshed,
Being not unlovable but strange and light;
Old riddles and new creeds, not in despite
But softly, as men smile about the dead.

The sages have a hundred maps to give
That trace their crawling cosmos like a tree,
They rattle reason out through many a sieve
That stores the sand and lets the gold go free:
And all these things are less than dust to me
Because my name is Lazarus and I live.

The last part above in my own poem comes from some of John Chrysostom’s commentary on Lazarus.

 

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