Saturday, October 3, 2009

His Blood Upon the Rose

Hello, Dear Reader,

I've not blogged for some time now, and all sorts of things are filling up my mind and making me ache to put them to paper, but time does not permit. Perhaps I'll find time for a few soon. Tonight, just one random point of interest.

My lovely sister introduced me to this song several months ago, but it never really caught my interest until recently. Like many other artistic works, it is the story in and behind Grace that most endears it to me. For me, underlying stories make up for many artistic defects. Symbolism in a song attracts me almost more than a story. So, when I tripped over the last verse, I sat back, puzzled, and scratched my head a tad (bit).

Now as the dawn is breaking, my heart is breaking too

On this May morn as I walk out, my thoughts will be of you

And I'll write some words upon the wall so everyone will know

I loved so much that I could see his blood upon the rose.

It seemed clear enough that "His blood upon the rose" was a symbolic reference to something or somebody, but who? My theological impulse of course brought a particular Man's particular Blood to my mind, but I shook my head. Couldn't be. Not in this type of song. But it couldn't be the singer's blood either, for he hadn't been executed yet, and even if he were envisioning the future, he wouldn't refer to himself in the third person, would he?

I asked my dear sister about this (or she asked me, or maybe we both asked each other) and we concluded that the best way to discover any potential reference would be to google the words, "his blood upon the rose." Having done this, she sent me this link. It appears that this poem was written by Joseph Plunkett, the singer in the song;

I see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.

I see his face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but his voice—and carven by his power
Rocks are his written words.

All pathways by his feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree.


It's beautiful. Really, it is. Creation seen in light of, contained in, and redeemed by Christ's Passion. All pathways by his feet are worn...His cross is every tree.

So the reference in the song is to Christ. Amazing. In the midst of tragedy, in his last twenty-four hours with his newly married wife, Plunkett wrote "some words upon the wall" there in the Kilmainham Jail. It is my guess that these are the words. Not words of sorrow over separation from his wife, nor of anger over his impending death, nor a hymn to the fighters for independence, but an expression of the significance of Christ's Godhead and Manhood for creation.

Particularly am I struck by the last line of the poem in the context of Plunkett's approaching execution. His cross is every tree. Though I have no way of knowing how Plunkett was put to death, I'd hazard a guess that hanging was standard procedure. With this in mind, I'd venture that Plunkett saw in his death a participation in the death of Christ - and an entrance into life. Now that's beautiful.

The song Grace retelling Plunkett's last day ends with the words, "I loved so much that I could see his blood upon the rose." Whom did he love? His wife? But that doesn't make sense, except in the sense that he looks into eternity to see a future reunion. Rather than that, it would seem that Plunkett loved a Savior, and his wife in the brilliant light of the the Same.

Anyway. There's a late night extrapolation on the basis of very slight evidence. However, I just couldn't get this out of my mind. Take it or leave it. I can't support my speculation - I just think it's awefully lovely.

Good Night! (Morning)

2 comments:

elizabeth said...

Lovely. Thinking of you!

Jeremy said...

Plunkett, as with other leaders of the 1916 rising, was executed by firing squad in the stone-breakers' yard in Kilmainham Gaol.

It's a powerful place. Do visit if you get the chance.