The Killing That was the day they killed the Son of God On a squat hill-top by Jerusalem. Zion was bare, her children from their maze Sucked by the dream of curiosity Clean through the gates. The very halt and blind Had somehow got themselves up to the hill. After the ceremonial preparation, The scourging, nailing, nailing against the wood, Erection of the main-trees with their burden, While from the hill rose an orchestral wailing, They were there at last, high up in the soft spring day. We watched the writhings, heard the moanings, saw The three heads turning on their separate axles Like broken wheels left spinning. Round his head Was loosely bound a crown of plaited thorn That hurt at random, stinging temple and brow As the pain swung into its envious circle. In front the wreath was gathered in a knot That as he gazed looked like the last stump left Of a death-wounded deer's great antlers. Some Who came to stare grew silent as they looked, Indignant or sorry. But the hardened old And the hard-hearted young, although at odds From the first morning, cursed him with one curse, Having prayed for a Rabbi or an armed Messiah And found the Son of God. What use to them Was a God or a Son of God? Of what avail For purposes such as theirs? Beside the cross-foot, Alone, four women stood and did not move All day. The sun revolved, the shadows wheeled, The evening fell. His head lay on his breast, But in his breast they watched his heart move on By itself alone, accomplishing its journey. Their taunts grew louder, sharpened by the knowledge That he was walking in the park of death, Far from their rage. Yet all grew stale at last, Spite, curiosity, envy, hate itself. They waited only for death and death was slow And came so quietly they scarce could mark it. They were angry then with death and death's deceit. I was a stranger, could not read these people Or this outlandish deity. Did a God Indeed in dying cross my life that day By chance, he on his road and I on mine? Edwin Muir What I most deeply love about this poem of Muir's is how it captures the wonderment
of the crucifixion, caught in its complex newness. Here the man who spoke of God in every action, beyond speaking, is being put
aside as not meeting our expectation, of offering a freedom that we cannot bear.
He must be killedfor being nothing that we can know with our present consciousness.
We need to step into a new perception, a rinsing of our ways of seeing. But free
Of what avail/ For purposes such as theirs? Only a faithful remnant stand in stillness: beginning to see, through their despair,
to the new light that will come. And the stranger passes on in his bewilderment... Muir's is a 'radical protestantism' . He suggests our acceptance (or rejection)
depends onthe consent of our own conscience/consciousness of one who
(in words of George Fox) speaks to 'our condition' not as we live it but as we could.
In Muir's vision, the church is an 'accidental' reminder of the truth of our
Christ-likeness, not an essential witness.
It is the wonderment that truly matters, that bewilders us into truth, the truth of
the light into which Christ's heart travels beyond death (in the poem). It is
the wonderment that invites us to practice resurrection.