The Graffiti Vandals Strike Again!

This neighborhood is really starting to go downhill…we were once again the victims of street artists on a chalking spree! The usual suspects (a.k.a. Sr. Cecilia Maria and Sr. Frances Marie) selected another drizzly November afternoon for their latest masterpiece, this time inspired by Kathleen Raine’s poem Northumbrian Sequence IV which is found in the poetry selections at the back of several volumes of the Breviary. Undaunted by the rain which threatened to wash away their work even as they created it, the intrepid graffiti artists succeeded in capturing many aspects of this poem, giving us some food for thought as we move into Advent and consider in a special way the mystery of the Annuciation and Incarnation of the Lord, so evocatively painted in Raine’s poetry.


Sr. Frances Marie had some beautiful thoughts on the poem and the mystery of the Annunciation as she worked - here are some of her insights!

The story of the Annunciation of the birth of Jesus is told so simply in the Gospel of Luke…yet what was that moment like for Our Lady? Kathleen Raine’s poem captures something of the awesomeness, the drama, the power of that moment; the awe, wonder, fear, of Our Lady’s heart in the face of this mystery…

The Divine Word…

The Word Who was in the beginning with God…through Whom all things came to be…(Jn. 1:3)

Christ, “Who holds all creation together in Himself…” (Col. 1:16-17)

…becoming flesh within her womb…

“Let in the thronging ancestors, the unfulfilled desire…” As I reflect on the annunciation, this line from Raine’s poem brings to my mind the generations of God’s people--all the way back to Adam and Eve, as we tried to capture in our chalk art—longing and waiting for the promised Messiah, yet passing away without seeing the day of God’s salvation. This verse suggests Mary’s pondering how the hopes and desires of her ancestors, of all of fallen mankind, are fulfilled in the One Who is to be conceived in her womb.

Mary embodies in herself all that God’s chosen people in the Old Testament were called to be: the Virgin Daughter Zion (cf. Zephaniah, 3:14, for one), the faithful bride of Yahweh (Is. 62:4-5, for one). She is the faithful bride, awaiting God’s salvation, the coming of her Savior. And by her “Fiat”, her cosmic “Let in”, she becomes the open door, consenting on behalf of all humanity to the Advent of the longed-for Messiah…



 in Whom God brings about His covenant marriage bond with humanity.

 [Mary] herself wanted to be the personal image of that absolute faithful bride, totally devoted to the Divine Bridegroom, and therefore she became the beginning of the new Israel (that new people willed by the God of the covenant) in her spousal heart.
— JPII, Angelus Address, 7/3/83

Northumbrian Sequence IV

Let in the wind,
Let in the rain,
Let in the moors tonight,

The storm beats on my window-pane,
Night stands at my bed-foot,
Let in the fear,
Let in the pain,
Let in the trees that toss and groan,
Let in the north tonight.

Let in the nameless formless power
That beats upon my door,
Let in the ice, let in the snow,
The banshee howling on the moor,
The bracken-bush on the bleak hillside,
Let in the dead tonight.

The whistling ghost behind the dyke,
The dead that rot in the mire,
Let in the thronging ancestors,
The unfilled desire,
Let in the wraith of the dead earl,
Let in the dead tonight.

Let in the cold,
Let in the wet,
Let in the loneliness,
Let in the quick,
Let in the dead,
Let in the unpeopled skies.

Oh how can virgin fingers weave
A covering for the void,
How can my fearful heart conceive
Gigantic solitude?
How can a house so small contain
A company so great?

Let in the dark,
Let in the dead,
Let in your love tonight.

Let in the snow that numbs the grave,
Let in the acorn-tree,
The mountain stream and mountain stone,
Let in the bitter sea.

Fearful is my virgin heart
And frail my virgin form,
And must I then take pity on
The raging of the storm
That rose up from the great abyss
Before the earth was made,
That pours the stars in cataracts
And shakes this violent world?

Let in the fire,
Let in the power,
Let in the invading might.

Gentle must my fingers be
And pitiful my heart
Since I must bind in human form
A living power so great,
A living impulse great and wild
That cries about my house
With all the violence of desire
Desiring this my peace.

Pitiful my heart must hold
The lonely stars at rest,
Have pity on the raven’s cry,
The torrent and the eagle’s wing,
The icy water of the tarn
And on the biting blast.

Let in the wound,
Let in the pain,
Let in your child tonight.

-by Kathleen Raine