Poetry Mondays: Christus Victor

I’ve been out in the garden today, looking at the signs of spring – snowdrops and bright yellow flowers (I’m not a botanist) are appearing like a hidden hoard of gold turned up by the plough, reminding me of this spring/Easter poem I wrote a couple of years ago.

 

 

I’m very fond of medieval imagery, and I have to confess that this isn’t the first time I’ve used the word ‘oriflamme‘ in a poem – I’m not sure what that says about me!  The whole sonnet, though, is based around the medieval theory of atonement called Christus Victor, which I first met (and loved) reading Piers Plowman.  The central idea is that Christ is sent as a sort of ‘bait’ or ransom, so that the devil is tricked into killing him, not realising that he is God and will rise again, breaking the gates of hell.  There’s a flavour of this in Narnia when the White Witch triumphantly kills Aslan, but forgets the ‘deep magic’ that his sacrifice will awake – and of course, in Narnia too, the spring returns.

Christus Victor

The dragon Winter made a treasure trove
and all the jewels of Earth were in his keep.
He shut it tight, and fast the bolts he drove,
and, sealed with ice, stored it in caverns deep.
But all unseen, a thief came in the cold
and stole inside, before he shut the lid.
Life stole inside among the hoarded gold
Curled up beneath the covert gems, and hid.
Then, while the ransacked earth, by theft undone,
covered her shame and sorrow under snow,
Life smashed the roof.  Now look!  Catching the sun,
gold cowslip, daffodil and primrose grow.
That knight who stole the stolen, stands most brave:
Life’s oriflamme flies from that plundered cave.
April 23rd 2015
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