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The Annunciation, John Waterhouse (1849-1917)

The Annunciation

The angel and the girl are met,
Earth was the only meeting place,
For the embodied never yet
Travelled beyond the shore of space.
The eternal spirits in freedom go.

See, they have come together, see,
While the destroying minutes flow,
Each reflects the other's face
Till heaven in hers and earth in his
Shine steady there. He's come to her
From far beyond the farthest star,
Feathered through time. Immediacy
of strangest strangeness is the bliss
That from their limbs all movement takes.
Yet the increasing rapture brings
So great a wonder that it makes
Each feather tremble on his wings.

Outside the window footsteps fall
Into the ordinary day
And with the sun along the wall
Pursue their unreturning way
That was ordained in eternity.
Sound's perpetual roundabout
Rolls its numbered octaves out
And hoarsely grinds its battered tune.

But through the endless afternoon
These neither speak nor movement make,
But stare into their deepening trance
As if their gaze would never break.

- Edwin Muir, 1887-1959

Reader Comments (11)

Thanks for the timely reminder.

December 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMaddy


December 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly

I had to read it a couple of times. I am not a literary genius, so it takes a bit to get through.

December 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDawn

Whoa...that was deep. I'm not sure what it was all about but it was deep. I'm not sure why it is called The Annunciation. In my field something that is annunciated is a signal or alarm signifying an event within a process. Perhaps this poem has that same meaning?

December 2, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSirdar

Gorgeous. Thanks.

December 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAnnette Lyon

Are all angels men? Why do we only hear of male angels?
I love John Waterhouse--I have The Lady of Shallott and Ophelia. D has said that they are lovely but depressing...

December 3, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteranjmae

Well, Anj, if Gabriel were a female angel, this poem would be confusing--the whole 'he' and 'she' issue.

December 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLuisa Perkins

This almost has a scifi feel to it. It is romantic and contemporary at the same time. I haven't read much Muir.

December 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJen of A2eatwrite

(sigh). I have a visceral response to these words. They take me to cherished Christmastides past with you and yours. (sniff).

December 4, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterclarence odbody

Beautiful. And yet... if you were altering it for ASL translators, just how would you reword it? :-D

December 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBrillig


December 10, 2007 | Unregistered Commentermeleah rebeccah

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