Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Ravi Shankar

THE THREE CHRISTS

THE THREE CHRISTS

THE THREE CHRISTS

Waiting for the Norwegian poet to read
her poems, you delineated the differences
between you and her by pointing to Jesus.

Her version, you said, was radiating outwards,
wave and astral particle, revelatory energy
and blinding light, inherently metaphysical.
 
Your version, however, was dusty and dog-
tired, having walked too long too far in feet
that ached, in draggled robes, in desperate
 
need of a hot bath, bread, a goblet of wine,
something to take his mind of those carping
apostles, those omnipresent Roman soldiers.
 
Sitting here, alone, looking out at the play
of sun and shadow on crenellated ferns,
I’m conjuring a third Christ, neither weary
 
nor luminous, but one who lives nowhere
save within me, indwelling life illimitable
that I will remain estranged from so long
 
as I insist on insisting, on putting my own
pleasure, which is all I know deeply or well,
first. A Christ who wears my body’s garment.
 
Raise the stone, there thou shalt find me;
cleave the wood and there I am. Let not
him who seeks cease until he finds. When
 
he finds, he shall be astonished. Astonished,
he shall reach the Kingdom. Having reached
the Kingdom, he shall (shall he? shall I?) rest.
Close

THE THREE CHRISTS

Waiting for the Norwegian poet to read
her poems, you delineated the differences
between you and her by pointing to Jesus.

Her version, you said, was radiating outwards,
wave and astral particle, revelatory energy
and blinding light, inherently metaphysical.
 
Your version, however, was dusty and dog-
tired, having walked too long too far in feet
that ached, in draggled robes, in desperate
 
need of a hot bath, bread, a goblet of wine,
something to take his mind of those carping
apostles, those omnipresent Roman soldiers.
 
Sitting here, alone, looking out at the play
of sun and shadow on crenellated ferns,
I’m conjuring a third Christ, neither weary
 
nor luminous, but one who lives nowhere
save within me, indwelling life illimitable
that I will remain estranged from so long
 
as I insist on insisting, on putting my own
pleasure, which is all I know deeply or well,
first. A Christ who wears my body’s garment.
 
Raise the stone, there thou shalt find me;
cleave the wood and there I am. Let not
him who seeks cease until he finds. When
 
he finds, he shall be astonished. Astonished,
he shall reach the Kingdom. Having reached
the Kingdom, he shall (shall he? shall I?) rest.

THE THREE CHRISTS

Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Literature Translation Institute of Korea
Partners
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère