Down to the World’s Cradle
Down to that littleness, down to all that
Crying and hunger, all that tiny flesh
And flickering spirit – down the great stars fall,
Here the great kings bow.
Here the farmer sees his fragile lambs,
Here the wise man throws his books away.
This manger is the universe’s cradle,
This singing mother has the words of truth.
Here the ox and ass and sparrow stop, Here the hopeless man breaks into trust.
God, you have made a victory for the lost.
Give us this daily Bread, this little Host.
Elizabeth Jennings (1926-2001), Victory
A devout Roman Catholic, Elizabeth Jennings wrote of her teenage years: 'I showed all the classic signs of a juvenile delinquent. I just had this terrible rage. I shall never forget that feeling of being beside yourself, out of control. Oh! I wouldn’t have 15 to 18 again. All the inward turning, the doubts, the difficulties.... ' Poetry was to be the lifelong outlet for her tumultuous inner life. She wrote, 'Poems if they are to succeed at all, are autonomous, they stand alone; no contemporary poem should require footnotes.'