Malcolm Guite – St. John the Baptist 1 – Lectionary Poem for Advent 2A

With the dawn of a new church year, The Englewood Review of Books is curating a weekly series of classic and contemporary poems that resonate with the themes of the lectionary readings. Here is one of the poems for this coming Sunday (Advent week 2 – More poems for this Sunday can be found here)


St. John the Baptist 1
St. John’s Eve

(to accompany the lectionary reading: Matt. 3:1-12)

Malcolm Guite

Midsummer night, and bonfires on the hill

Burn for the man who makes way for the Light:

‘He must increase and I diminish still,

Until his sun illuminates my night.’

So John the Baptist pioneers our path,

Unfolds the essence of the life of prayer,

Unlatches the last doorway into faith,

And makes one inner space an everywhere.

Least of the new and greatest of the old,

Orpheus on the threshold with his lyre,

He sets himself aside, and cries “Behold

The One who stands amongst you comes with fire!”

So keep his fires burning through this night,

Beacons and gateways for the child of light.


— Reprinted here with the permission of the poet.
 This poem (and another St. John the Baptist sonnet) can be found on
Malcolm Guite’s blog
They also  can be found in his book:  
Sounding the Seasons: 70 Sonnets for the Christian Year

Malcolm Guite
is a poet-priest and Chaplain of Girton College Cambridge. He performs as a singer and guitarist fronting the Cambridgeshire-based blues, rhythm and blues, and rock band “Mystery Train”.

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