The Annunciation, by Edwin Muir – A poem for Advent 2 (2022)

Annunciation, by Leonardo da Vinci, circa 1472

The Annunciation
by Edwin Muir

The angel and the girl are met.
Earth was the only meeting place.
For the embodied never yet
Travelled beyond the shore of space.

The eternal spirits in freedom go.
See, they have come together, see,
While the destroying minutes flow,
Each reflects the other’s face
Till heaven in hers and earth in his
Shine steady there.  He’s come to her
From far beyond the farthest star,
Feathered through time.  Immediacy
Of strangest strangeness is the bliss
That from their limbs all movement takes.
Yet the increasing rapture brings
So great a wonder that it makes
Each feather tremble on his wings.

Outside the window footsteps fall
Into the ordinary day
And with the sun along the wall
Pursue their unreturning way.
Sound’s perpetual roundabout
Rolls its numbered octaves out
And hoarsely grinds its battered tune.

But through the endless afternoon
These neither speak nor movement make,
But stare into their deepening trance
As if their gaze would never break.

This poem is almost “Ignatian” in its sense of moment.  St. Ignatius popularized Biblical meditation that invites the reader to enter into a Biblical passage, not as a reader or distant viewer, but as a participating witness, asking, What do I see?  What do I smell?  What do I taste and touch?  In Muir’s poem, the infinite meets the finite, the air pulses with the intensity of eternity crammed into the instant of an earthly moment.  They have come together, heaven and earth.  While ordinary footsteps patter in the street outside the window and the sun creeps along the wall, Gabriel, a heavenly being, meets Mary, a mortal girl, and time freezes “Till heaven in hers and earth in his / Shine steady there.”

Note: It has been my habit to post poetry here during the season of Advent. You can find some of the poems I posted in previous years below.

Past Advent poems

2 thoughts on “The Annunciation, by Edwin Muir – A poem for Advent 2 (2022)

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