Phillip Medhurst

Wisdom from a Gnostic Sage

Later Pieta (Michelangelo)


I bear this weight with dignity,

For meaning is in symmetry –

Or so it seemed that way, when I

Could easily command plasticity.


I chiselled him – the crucified –

As handsome then: a slumbering lord,

And Mary still resplendent in

Her prime, and poised, and aureoled


In draperies. But now he droops

As heavy as a corpse will be,

And she, wrapped up against the cold,

Just clutches at this clod, her son.


I had to come in person and

Join in this undertaking, but

I’m growing old, and now don’t know

Where beauty is. And that’s the truth.



The Word


Between the bone and marrow

Penetrates the arrow

Of your Word. And so

Salvific poison spreads.


Once it takes hold

All worldliness contracts

To lodge that head

Below my heart.


There is no antidote,

For – sweet Mercury –

The chemistry must kill

What kills, then save outright.


This unevaded shaft

Invades me. I must yield.

For once it has arrived,

It lives and thrives.






I curse the day on which my so-called friend,

Persuaded by my sisters, chose to come

And bellow at me in my cosy den

Where I had slept for days all neatly wrapped

In perfumed swaddling-bands. For up ‘til then

My aches and wants and cares were left outside

My fortress sealed against the world and time.

But now I am re-born with my old bones.

Conclusion to my life has all been robbed:

I must endure the painful swell again.

Though I am made a sign I now repent

The impulse of my blood which leapt too quick,

For peace by any should not be disturbed

When it by natural means has been conferred.

When brute creation first brought me to birth,

I felt no obligation. Flesh and all

I made of it was mine. But now each breath

Compounds my debt to an impatient god.