Thursday, April 28, 2011

Advent, 1916 - Eva Dobell

I dreamt last night Christ came to earth again
To bless His own. My soul from place to place
On her dream-quest sped, seeking for His face
Through temple and town and lovely land, in vain.
Then came I to a place where death and pain
Had made of God’s sweet world a waste forlorn.
With shattered trees and meadow gashed and torn,
Where the grim trenches scarred the shell-sheared plain.

And through that Golgotha of blood and clay,
Where watchers cursed the sick dawn, heavy-eyed,
There (in my dream) Christ passed upon His way,
Where His cross marks their nameless graves who died
Slain for the world’s salvation where all day
For others’ sake strong men are crucified.

Eva Dobell (1867-1963)

Eva Dobell worked as a nurse during the war.

Another war poem, but this time from a female perspective.

The 14 line sonnet is split into eight and six. The 10 syllable pentameter lines have rhyming scheme abbaadda cdcdcd.  This scheme strongly integrates each section.

The turn in the second section answers the question posed by the first and identifies where Christ would appear if walking the earth in 1916. The apt title mirrors the religious season devoted to the birth of Christ.

By definition perhaps it is appropriate that Christ would appear where he is needed most. As a nurse Eva Dobell would have been in a similar situation in attending the most pressing needs of the injured.

The rhyming couplet is said to be the most important lines of a sonnet. In this case added reason is given to Christ’s appearance with the sacrifice of the soldier equated to that of Christ. Both are 'strong' in the sense of being willing to sacrifice their life rather than in any physical strength. Though of course many went to war in complete ignorance of what this entailed and the horrors that lay ahead.

Footnote …

It takes little imagination to define places in the World where the attention of Christ is most needed, including the devastating effects of natural disasters in the recent floods and earthquakes. If Christ is a ‘living Christ’ we might ask in what way is he addressing such situations and why are such horrific events even tolerated. This was in line with a question posed to the Pope at Easter by a child. The Pontiff gave a very inadequate response.

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