The poetry of Bruce Dawe #3


Poem: And a Good Friday was had by all by Australian poet Bruce Dawe

One of the problems with writing poems about well known Christian themes is just that; they are very well known. It is therefore a challenge to write something fresh and original about a very well known topic. This is what immediately impressed me about this poem. It certainly looks at the crucifixion from a totally different point of view – that of the centurion.

            There is an immediate impact upon the reader, especially one with a deep Christian understanding of what it all means. Here is the centurion dealing with the event as just another day at work. ‘Orders is orders, I said after it was over/ nothing personal you understand.’ It is his casual approach to just another day on the job that bites so hard into those to whom the cross is so significant.

            Dawe has the uncanny ability to describe events in startling imagery. Consider, for example, these lines: ‘he rose in the hot air/ like a diver just leaving the springboard, arms spread/ so it seemed/ over the whole damned creation.’ It is an image that is not easily dismissed – or forgotten. And I love the irony – and spiritual significance – of the phrase ‘the whole damned creation.’ Without the sacrifice of Christ, the whole of creation was indeed damned.

            The final line has a chilling poignancy: ‘and a blind man in tears.’ We are all, in a sense, blind to the truth of what happened at Calvary, until the tears of repentance and acceptance cleanse our thinking.


2 Responses to “The poetry of Bruce Dawe #3”

  1. Richard McCullen CM says:

    I liked very much the poem ‘A Good Friday was had by all’. As a Catholic priest the Cross and its signvficance and value for every Chrsitian and indeed for every human being is paramount. It is difficult to keep one’s thinking ‘fresh’ on ‘the terrible beauty’ that was the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. This poem gave me much to reflect upon . Thank You.
    (Fr.)Richard McCullen CM
    St Ppauls
    Dublin 5

  2. Trevor says:

    Thank you for visiting my writing site, and for your comments. The more I read of Dawe’s poetry, the more I am impressed with how insightful he is on many topics.