.

Stations of the Cross

.

I. Pilate

Why, Pentheus, Cambyses, why,
Why, Antony, in days gone by,
Did you the sons of gods defy?
__Well, I your madness share.
__Barabbas I shall spare
__And must the dread abide
__Of Jesus crucified.

.

II. Disciple 

Hence leads the long and tearful way.
Here I my care and sadness may
Upon the Man of Sorrows lay,
__Who bends and willingly
__Receives the cross from me,
__My trouble more than shares
__And my whole burden bears.

.

III. Jesus Falls the First Time

Who is this man with head so bowed
Who walks amidst the tumult loud,
The sneering mob, the taunting crowd,
__Who falls upon one knee
__In all humility,
__A woman’s son and born
__To face contempt and scorn?

.

IV. Mary

Jesus, my crown of glory bright,
My blessing and my heart’s delight,
My footsteps’ lantern in the night,
__Sweet Jesus, for Your sake,
__My faithful heart will break,
__Pierced by the sharpened sword,
__For You, beloved Lord.

.

V. Simon

I too upon this path must tread,
Take up the cross, as Christ has said,
And follow whither He is led.
__My dreadful road I know.
__To Calvary I go.
__Yet peace unto my mind
__Beneath His cross I find.

.

VI. Veronica

God’s Word by whom all things were made,
If I, poor pale and fleeting shade,
May mop Your brow and, for Your aid,
__Some mercy, by Your grace,
__Might work before Your face,
__Your countenance I pray
__May ever by me stay.

.

VII. Jesus Falls the Second Time

A father or a mother so
Conversing with a child might go
Down on both knees with head held low,
__As to his knees He falls,
__And thus to me He calls:
__“My child, turn not away.
__Come unto me, I pray.”

.

VIII. Woman of Jerusalem

Now to the pathless mountains steal.
Now to the hillside wastes appeal:
“From desolation us conceal.
__Say, children of my womb:
__Light in the day of gloom,
__Unless our saviour lives,
__Who then or solace gives?

.

IX. Jesus Falls the Third Time

My God, how can You me forsake?
I in time past this road to take
A pleasant, easy climb would make;
__I could my strength renew;
__On eagles’ wings I flew.
__But now my strength is all
__Exhausted and I fall.

.

X. Soldier

His robe, which healing once supplied,
Which once with Him was glorified,
Transfigured on the mountainside,
__My prize I thoughtless make,
__His blessings thankless take.
__May He my sins forgive,
__That I may better live.

.

XI. Dismas

Christ, how my sins have pierced me through!
My crimes both You and me pursue.
A captured thief, I suffer too.
__With terror I amazed
__Beside my Lord am raised—
__And I deservedly.
__Jesus, remember me.

.

XII. Longinus

Would you know who it was that slew
The Lord? Alas, what can I do?
My hand it was that from Him drew
__That cry which all my years
__Shall echo in my ears.
__For I have torn Your heart,
__Sweet Son of God, apart.

.

XIII. Joseph

The work is done and I have leave
Christ’s broken body to receive.
I may for my redeemer grieve,
__Whom Mary once more holds
__And in her arms enfolds.
__So marvel now, dear friends,
__As God to earth descends.

.

XIV. Nicodemus

These cloths in oils and tears I steep,
His body here three days to keep.
Christ has descended to the deep,
__My soul from Hell to save
__And sanctify the grave,
__Where I shall, by and by,
__When He shall call me, lie.

.

.

Morrison Handley-Schachler is a retired Chartered Public Finance Accountant and Lecturer in Accounting. He has a doctorate in Ancient History and has published articles on ancient Persian history, accounting history, financial crime, auditing and financial risk management. He lives in South Queensferry, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, Scotland.


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18 Responses

  1. jd

    A beautiful poem for the day, Morrison, and so interesting told in the different attendants’ perspectives. Thank you for it.

    Reply
    • Morrison Handley-Schachler

      Thank you very for reading this poem. It is important to me to reflect on different perspectives on and reactions to Christ’s passion.

      Reply
  2. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    What a delightful Easter gift – “The Stations of the Cross” served in poetic, educative, bite-size morsels of magnificence. Perhaps the egg hunt should be abandoned in the interest of finding the true meaning of Easter in the words of your poem. What a radical thought! Thank you, Morrison.

    Reply
    • Morrison Handley-Schachler

      Thank you very much for taking the time to read and provide feedback. I hope that it would make an interesting and uplifting exercise for GBmany and would be glad if my poem proved an aid to reflection.

      Reply
  3. C.B. Anderson

    Though thoughtful, fruitful and evocative, these lines suffer from a bit too much syntactic arrest, a condition that an alert reader struggles to forgive.

    Reply
    • Morrison Handley-Schachler

      Thank you very much for your observant and appreciative comments. Yes, there may be stanzas with a high number of subordinate or co-ordinate clauses and delayed main clauses and I admit that this may sometimes be disruptive. However, at the same time I hope that this may help capture the confusion and bewilderment which must have been a feature of the experience of the events of the original Good Friday for many witnesses.

      Reply
  4. Roy Eugene Peterson

    This is another treat for Good Friday taking us through the events from the trial before Pontius Pilate, to the crucifixion, and on to the entombment. Well-summarized with an interesting rhyming pattern for the verses.

    Reply
    • Morrison Handley-Schachler

      Thank you for taking the time to read and for giving feedback. I have used a metre and rhyming scheme which would allow for a change of pace in each meditation, allowing the shorter final four lines to express slower and perhaps more disjointed thoughts, after a more developed opening, which may also be more linguistically complex.

      Reply
  5. Daniel Kemper

    I think C.B. has a kind of perfect pitch for these sorts of things. I can hear what he has said.

    That spoken, the subject matter alone humbles me; I get lost in my head on tiny turns of leaves and sunlight and cups of coffee, which is fine, I suppose, but here is the one true worthy subject.

    The step by step development is very strongly done. That IS the reason for the arrests: we’re going literally step-by-step from station to station, solemnly, stop to stop station to station. Captured well. A true gift this poem is for this Friday.

    Reply
    • Morrison Handley-Schachler

      Thank you very much for your kind comments, Daniel. It would be impossible to write anything entirely worthy of Christ’s passion but I have sought to express some reactions to it. I think I understand C.B.’s comment on syntactic arrests but hope that the overall effect is not too disruptive when contemplating the meaning of the content

      Reply
  6. Joseph S. Salemi

    I disagree about the “syntactic arrest.” In my opinion the poet is attempting, quite successfully, to give a medieval rhythm to his work that approximates the snatches of hymnal prosody one finds in any devotional Office — in this case the Officium Sanctae Crucis. But rather than focus on the cross, he has the excellent idea of allowing the Stations of the Cross to be verbally illustrated by the different voices and viewpoints of persons who were connected with them in some manner.

    Reply
  7. Morrison Handley-Schachler

    Thank you very much, Joseph. I have tried to capture different thoughts, feelings and relationships with Christ through the voices of different witnesses and participants in the events. I have tried to capture combinations of more complex and developed thoughts through the use of metre as well as grammar. I cannot say whether this gives the poem a Mediaeval monastic tone but I would be very pleased if it did.

    Reply
  8. Adam Sedia

    The Stations of the Cross are woefully underrepresented outside of church architecture. I was happy to see a poem give them the treatment they deserve. These are wonderful meditations, would make an excellent supplement to praying the Stations. (“Pilate” was a real attention-grabbing beginning.)

    I also agree with Dr. Salemi. The pacing of the meter here is quite musically attuned. I even think the poem is worth setting to music. It would make a wonderful cantata.

    Reply
  9. Morrison Handley-Schachler

    Thank you for your kind comments, Adam. It would be marvellous if a suitable musical setting could be found or written.

    Reply
  10. Louis Groarke

    Very disciplined; very deep, moving subject matter; very thorough and serious; I am impressed; yes, the poem could be set to music. Lg

    Reply
    • Morrison Handley-Schachler

      Delighted that you appreciated the poem, Louis. Perhaps someone will take up the musical challenge.

      Reply
  11. Margaret Coats

    Conscientiously worked out, Morrison, and you have given your poem the finest of careful artistry. The medieval lyric form it echoes is that of the sequence, which we know only from Stabat Mater (“At the cross her station keeping”) and a very few others. Thousands of Latin examples exist, of varied complexity and extent, collected along with much simpler hymns in the 55-volume Analecta Hymnica. Short lines and conspicuous rhymes are the trademark, and creative syntax to accommodate the rhymes is the norm.

    Your work, however, goes beyond the medieval form to employ the visual meditative technique championed by Ignatius of Loyola in the 16th century. In order to make the events of Christ’s life real and immediate, Ignatius required the person meditating to visualize himself in the scene with all its details. Who stood next to him? What did that neighbor wear? What did he say? How did he move? What was his facial expression? From questions such as this, an individual like yourself writing this poem could gauge thoughts and emotions surrounding the most worthy of meditations, and convey the fruits to readers. Yours is very fine work indeed. Any syntactic difficulty is easily overcome by simple devout desire to see and understand.

    Reply
    • Morrison Handley-Schachler

      Thank you for your kind and insightful comments. Margaret, which are, as always, perceptive and erudite. St. Ignatius of Loyola remains one of the key exemplars and guides in Christian spiritual meditation and his spiritual exercises are one of the treasures of the Church.
      I am very happy to see my poem compared to a Mediaeval sequence, a category which includes many fine poetic works.

      Reply

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