Earth Grown Old: Third Week of Advent


During the Sundays of Advent this year, the Emerging Scholars Network will be posting works by Christina Rossetti. As a thoughtful poet who engaged deeply with faith, Rossetti wrote a number of poems about the church calendar. In the Advent poems we share here, she engages with the traditional idea of Advent as both remembering Christ’s first coming and waiting for His second. Her imagery is rich and thoughtful, and we hope this poetry helps you to reflect on what it means to wait for Christ. We can only share part of this piece here, but we encourage you to read the whole poem elsewhere. For material from our archives on Advent click here. To God be the glory! – Hannah

Earth grown old, yet still so green,
Deep beneath her crust of cold
Nurses fire unfelt, unseen:
Earth grown old.

We who live are quickly told:
Millions more lie hid between
Inner swathings of her fold.

When will fire break up her screen?
When will life burst thro’ her mould?
Earth, earth, earth, thy cold is keen,
Earth grown old.

. . .

When earth and sea shall empty all
Their graves of great and small;

When earth wrapped in a fiery flood
Shall no more hide her blood;

When mysteries shall be revealed;
All secrets be unsealed;

When things of night, when things of shame,
Shall find at last a name,

Pealed for a hissing and a curse
Throughout the universe:

Then Awful Judge, most Awful God,
Then cause to bud Thy rod,

To bloom with blossoms, and to give
Almonds; yea, bid us live.

I plead Thyself with Thee, I plead
Thee in our utter need:

Jesus, most Merciful of Men,
Show mercy on us then;

Lord God of Mercy and of men,
Show mercy on us then.

Source: Christina Rossetti, The Complete Poems, ed. R. W. Crump (New York: Penguin Books, 2001), pp. 420-421.

Image credit: Gallego, Fernando, ca. 1440-ca. 1507. Christ in Judgment, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved November 25, 2015]. Original source:

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