it was embittered

Posted by on April 27, 2011

This fragment from the Amy Clampitt poem On the Disadvantages of Central Heating keeps going through my head this spring over and over and over again like a scratched record:

…of nothing / quite drying out till next summer…of nothing / quite drying out till next summer…of nothing / quite drying out till next summer…of nothing / quite drying out till next summer [repeat]

Today I was supposed to be out working on our community strawberry patch– weeding and helping to repair the fence with the others who are involved. But the rain is falling so heavily, as it has been on and off relentlessly for what seems like weeks, that this was not possible. Only coffee and supervising the indoor antics of two small girls was possible, not unlike the possibilities presented by a day in January. I cannot remember a spring of such relentless rain and wetness.

I will not post the Clampitt poem again because I already used it once for Poetry Wednesday last year. Also, I can choose to disregard the weather today in favor of a more confessional, unseen brightness, which the weather will just have to catch up with, and surely will. “It was embittered, it was embittered, it was embittered,” is another fragment on audio loop in my head since hearing the Paschal homily of St. John Chrysostom early, early Easter morning. Why these phrases circulate in my head like overalls clanking in a dryer, I do not know. But certainly, I don’t mind. I love the sounds-of-the-words knocking around between my two ears. It is Bright Week, and why?

Hades was embittered when it encountered Thee in the lower regions.
It was embittered, for it was abolished!
It was embittered, for it was mocked!
It was embittered, for it was purged!
It was embittered, for it was despoiled!
It was embittered, for it was bound in chains!
It took a body and came upon God!
It took earth and encountered Ηeaven!
It took what it saw, but crumbled before what it had not seen!

  1. Molly Sabourin
    April 27, 2011

    Julia, I just love you, and the way your eyes (via your camera lens) capture the world around you. And I appreciate more than you know the way your thoughts put a lyrical, poetic spin on even the most mundane of life's moments – the ones I'm sure contain no beauty, but then you manage to prove otherwise leaving me more alert and thankful. "It was embittered," (switch the laundry) "It was embittered" (empty the dishwasher). I sure need me more and more of that kind of rhythm. Thank you.

  2. Kris Livovich
    April 27, 2011

    Having never encountered that bit of homily (having never encountered much of St. John Chrysostom at all!), I find if beautiful and remarkable. Echoing Molly, I love your thoughts on Poetry Wednesday.

    In Mexico, in both the Nativity scenes and the Easter processions, Satan and Hell play a large part. They are always included as small or large statues showing their rage at the Christ – both his birth and his death. Growing up as a Protestant kid, I found it laughable and a bit repulsive. But now I find it so very apropos. Of course Satan rages at the birth! Of course he rages at the resurrection!

    Christ is Risen indeed!

  3. Beth
    April 27, 2011

    The homily never gets old does it? It was especially meaningful to me as my father was dying. I clung to it with every bit of faith I could muster. And as our visiting priest at our tiny mission read the words I teared up and noticed that my husband had tears streaming down his cheeks. Yes over and over again may it play in my heart, my head, "O death where is thy sting? O hell where is thy victory?" Christ is Risen and all things, even me, are made new. Now if I can just live that resurrected life. Peace and joyous Bright Week to you.

  4. annajouj
    May 8, 2011

    I had to stop and stare at the photo for a while before reading . . . lovely. Then I read. Lovely.
    It's good to be in the U.S. and have internet a bit easier to come by at the moment, so I can keep better caught up on your blog. Incidentally, if the weather preventing you from the strawberries made it easier for you to be blog-writing, then I thing the gains outweigh the losses 🙂