Walk to Emmaus

Walk to Emmaus

I.
That awful Friday when the sky turned black
And people jeered at Jesus as He died
Like a convicted criminal, when He
Only had preached of love, and broke no laws,
Neither Roman nor Jewish, and had taught
Us how the Father loved the prodigals
And the lost lambs, and wanted us to guide
Our ways according to His Word, which stayed
Intact, with not a jot or tittle changed–
That awful Friday I stood back in shame
And watched Him die, for when the Romans came
Into the Garden of Gethsemane,
Arrested Him and took Him off, I had
Run like a rabbit in distress and hid
Myself in bushes; I deserted Him
I said I’d never leave–we all said that–
I failed the test, and shame has haunted me
As He was flogged, taunted, and crucified
While I still hid and did not intervene.
A wealthy man with courage boldly went
To Pilate—Politician of the Year,
Who sentenced Jesus to His death because
The Pharisees and Sadducees convinced
Him to—this Joseph said to Pilate, “Let
Me have His body, for I have a tomb
I’ll bury Him in,” and the politician,
Who was surprised that He was dead so soon,
Granted this Joseph the rich man’s request.

II.

Four Roman soldiers guarded Jesus’ tomb
And a large boulder blocked the entrance—these
Were measures Pilate took to keep away
Disciples like myself who might go in
To steal our master’s body, which, we’re told,
Was not required, for God raised Him from death
And He appeared to Mary Magdalene,
To Peter, John, and many others, so

I felt bewildered when they told me this,
And asked my friend Cleopas, “Will you walk
Beside me to Emmaus—seven miles—?”

And he agreed, and we discussed these strange
Events, and as we walked and talked, and left
David’s City, a stranger (we were kept
From recognizing Him: he seemed to be
An ordinary Jew) asked us if He
Could join us on our walk and we agreed.
“What are you talking of together as
You walk along?” He asked. We stood still, our
Faces downcast, and I burned up with shame
At how I’d run away in Jesus’ time
Of need. Cleopas asked the stranger, “Are
You visiting Jerusalem? Do you
Not know the things that happened there these days?”
He looked at him and me and asked, “What things?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” we told him, “of Him,
A prophet powerful in speech and deed
Before God. This He was, for He’s no more,
As our chief priests and rulers handed Him
Off to be sentenced to His death, and they
Crucified him when we had hoped that He
Would be the One to ransom Israel.
And what is more, this is the third day since
All this took place, and furthermore, some women

Belonging to our group amazed us: They went
To Jesus’ tomb at dawn but did not find
His body and they came and told us they’d
Seen angels in a vision who said that
He was alive, then some of our companions
Went to the tomb and found it totally
As they–the women–had told them, but Him
They did not see.”

III.
The stranger said to us,
“You are so foolish and so slow of heart
To put your faith in all the prophets’ words!
Was not the Christ required to suffer all
These things and come into His glory? This
Stranger began with Moses and the prophets
And He explained what Scriptures said about
The Christ, born of the seed of woman, as
The Lord had prophesied in Genesis,
That He would be of virgin birth, a Son
Who shall be called Immanuel, which means
God with us, as Isaiah prophesied;
That He would be the Son of God, that is,
His Father being God, as written in
The second Psalm; that He would be the seed
Of Abraham, as God Himself had sworn,
And in the seed of Abraham would all
The nations of the earth be blessed, because
Abraham had obeyed the voice of God;
That Christ would be the seed of Isaac, son
Of Jacob as a Star and Scepter who
Will crush the Moabites and crack the skulls
Of Shethites; that He’d come from Judah’s line;
That He would be a Branch from Jesse’s roots,
As written in Isaiah; that He would
Come from the House of David–here He paused–
Cleopas said, “That limits it to few,”
And I said, “God began His plan to send
Messiah in the Garden, then through Jews.
Our Master said, ‘Salvation comes from Jews.’”
The sun had moved from zenith halfway to
Horizon as the man continued with
His teaching of the prophecies about
Messiah, telling us that Micah wrote
That out of little Bethlehem would come
One to rule Israel whose origins
Are from of old, from everlasting times.
Kings would bring gifts to Him, the Psalmist wrote,
And women would lament and weep because
Their children would be no more, prophecy
Fulfilled when Herod had male children killed
In Bethlehem, not knowing Joseph had
Taken his wife and child to Egypt, for
An angel had advised him in a dream.
A Psalm had prophesied He’d be called Lord;
Isaiah prophesied He would be called
Immanuel, or “God with us,” and Moses
Wrote in the Law that God would raise for them
A prophet from among their brothers. From
A Psalm came prophecy that the Messiah
Would be a priest forever in the way
And manner of Melchizedek; He shall
Be judge, our judge, our Lawgiver, the Lord
Is King for us and He will save us, as
Isaiah prophesied, and the Messiah
Shall be the King, the Psalmist prophesied,
A prophecy fulfilled when Pilate told
His soldiers to put over Jesus’ head
Upon the cross where He was crucified
An accusation, “This is Jesus, King
Of Jews.” Isaiah prophesied that He
Would have the Holy Spirit rest on Him,
Spirit of wisdom, understanding, strength
And counsel, knowledge and the fear of God,
A prophecy fulfilled when John the Baptist
Baptized Him, and He came up from the water,
And at that moment heaven opened, and
He saw God’s Spirit come down like a dove
And land on Him; a voice from heaven said,
“This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me
Great joy.” A Psalmist prophesied that He
Would have great zeal for God, that zeal for God
Would eat Him up, and insults which are hurled
At God would fall on Him, which was fulfilled
When Jesus made a whip of cords and drove
The merchants and the moneychangers from
The temple, saying, “Take these things away!
You’ve made my Father’s house a den of thieves.”
In everything He did, He honored God.

Road to Emmaus by Robert Zund

IV.
I paused and raised my foot to flick a rock
Off that had lodged itself inside my sandals.
“What you have said is more than I can bear,”
Cleopas told the stranger, who replied,
“What is concealed will be made manifest.”
The sun dipped lower in the sky. “Go on,”
I said, and He told us more prophecies
And their fulfillment in the Savior, Christ.

V.
“Isaiah prophesied a messenger
Would come before the Christ,” the stranger said,
And that, “A voice would cry in wilderness
And say, ‘Prepare the way of God, make straight
A desert highway for our God,’ and John
The Baptist, in Judea’s wilderness,
Preached this: ‘Repent, for heaven’s kingdom is
At hand.’ Isaiah also prophesied
His ministry would start in Galilee:
‘Those who have suffered will have pain no more.
The lands of Zebulun and Naphtali
In Galilee were hated once, but this
Gentile district across the Jordan River and
Along the Mediterranean Sea
Will be esteemed.’ His ministry would show
Great miracles: The blind would see, the deaf
Would hear, the lame would leap like deer, the tongue
Of mutes would sing for joy, and thus it was
Fulfilled in Jesus’ ministry, that He
Went ‘round the cities and the villages,
Taught in their synagogues, proclaimed good news,
And healed diseases of each kind, as well
As every kind of sickness, and a Psalm
Prophesied that He’d teach in parables,
And Jesus spoke to crowds in parables;
Without a parable He did not speak
To them; and Malachi did prophesy
That He’d go in the temple, as was done
When Jesus went into God’s temple, made
A whip of cords, and drove out those who bought
And sold in it, and Zechariah wrote
That Zion’s daughters would exclaim because
Their King, a humble man, would ride into
Jerusalem upon a donkey, on
A colt, a donkey’s foal, as was fulfilled
When Jesus rode into Jerusalem
Upon a donkey’s colt. A Psalmist wrote
That He would be a stumbling block: The stone
The builders have rejected would become
Chief cornerstone, and so, in Jesus’ life
The Jews rejected Him and saw that He
Was crucified, yet on that Rock will God
Construct His church”–and here we paused our walk
And I sat on a rock to rest; a breeze
Tousled my hair and cooled my face, and I
Looked up and down the road, where travelers–
Some single, some in groups, some with their friends
And donkeys laden with their household goods–
These travelers took different rates of speed
On their ways to or from Jerusalem–
And as I counted them, Cleopas said,
“The sun is getting lower, let’s proceed
Along our way, Emmaus is not far
At all,” and now the stranger told us how
Multiple prophecies had been fulfilled
In the last day of Jesus’ life; and as

He spoke of prophecies fulfilled, it was
As though he’d lit a giant flaming torch
Over the sea that brightened depths and all
The water in between and showed the crabs
And fishes, kelp and algae, shipwrecked boats
And sailor bones, and as he spoke, the parts
Of boats–bows, sterns, masts, gunnels, rudders, decks–
Appeared to come together and unite:
The stranger took the Law and Prophets thus,
The verses separated–disjointed as
It were–and demonstrated how they fit
Together in the life of Jesus Christ,

Our Lord, who has fulfilled these prophecies.

VI.
King David wrote a Psalm that said, “My friend
In whom I trusted, one who ate my bread,
Has lifted up his heel against me,” which
Judas Iscariot fulfilled when he
Betrayed the Lord by giving him a kiss
So Roman soldiers could arrest Him. In
Zechariah it’s written, “‘What will you
Give me for wages?’ And they weighed for me,
For wages, thirty silver pieces,” which
Was the amount they counted out to Judas,
Who, troubled by betraying Jesus, threw
The silver pieces in the temple for
The potter, and religious leaders bought
The potter’s field to bury strangers in,
As Zechariah prophesied; and he
Wrote also: “Strike the Shepherd, and the sheep
Will scatter,” and when Roman soldiers seized
Him and arrested Him, His followers
Deserted him and fled, a prophecy
Fulfilled, and when they put the Lord on trial,
Fierce witnesses rose up against Him, as
David had written in a Psalm. “He was
Oppressed, afflicted, yet He did not open
His mouth,” Isaiah wrote, which was fulfilled,
For when the Jewish leaders did accuse
Him, He did not reply. Isaiah wrote
Also, that “He was pierced for our transgressions,
And He was crushed for our iniquities;
The punishment that brought us peace was on
Him, and by His stripes we are healed,” and when
Pontius Pilate gave the crowd a choice
Between Barabbas and the Lord, they asked
Pilate to let Barabbas go, and he
Did so, then he had Jesus flogged, and had
Him sent out to be crucified, and they
Spat on his face and beat him; others struck
Him with their palms, as had been prophesied:
“I offered up my back to those who beat
Me and my cheeks to those who pulled my beard.
I did not hide my face from mockery
And spitting,” written by Isaiah, who
Lived centuries before my friend and I
Were born, the stranger pointed out, and He
Went on tell how they had ridiculed
And mocked the Lord, which had been prophesied
In that the Psalmist David wrote: “All those
Who see me sneer at me; they shoot the lip
Out, and they wag the head and say, “Commit
Yourself to God; let Him deliver him;
Since He delights in him.’” Another Psalm
By David prophesied how weak He’d be:
“My knees are weak from fasting, and my body
Is thin and gaunt,” a prophecy fulfilled
When Jesus, carrying His cross, fell down,
And Roman soldiers forced a man named Simon
To bear the cross up to the Skull Place, which,

In Hebrew, is known as Golgotha. “They
Have pierced My hands and feet,” King David wrote,
Which happened when they came to Calvary
And crucified Him, hammering the spikes
Into His hands and feet, and He was numbered
With the transgressors, as Isaiah wrote,
And the fulfillment came, for to his right
And left were crucified two robbers, “and
He bore the sin of many, and He made
Intercession for the transgressors,” as
Isaiah wrote, for while upon the cross,
He said, “Forgive them, Father, for they do
Not know what they are doing,” and Isaiah
Prophesied that His people would reject
Him, writing: “He was hated and rejected
By men, a man of suffering acquainted
With grief; like someone people turned away
From; he was hated; we considered Him
Insignificant,” for while Jesus lived,
Even his brothers put no faith in him,
And Jewish rulers wanted him to die.
They hated Him without a cause, as was
Written by David in a Psalm: “Those who
Hate me without a cause outnumber hairs
Upon my head,” and so they hated Him.
His loved ones and his friends and relatives
Stood off from Him due to his wounds, as was
Said in a Psalm, fulfilled before the cross.
David wrote in another Psalm: “I am
A joke to people everywhere; when they
See me, they shake their heads in scorn,” which was
Fulfilled when those who passed by at the cross
Insulted Him and shook their heads and stared
At Him, as written in the Psalm: “I can
Count all My bones; they look and stare at Me.”
A breeze arose and blew some dust around.
I looked at Cleopas, whose eyes had tears–
From dust that stung his eyes, I’m sure of it.
The stranger went on to point out the Psalm
That said: “They split my clothes among them; for
My clothing they cast lots.” This was fulfilled,
For after soldiers crucified the Lord,
They took His clothes and they divided them
In parts, one part to each of the four soldiers,
And for the seamless tunic they cast lots
To see whose it would be; and as He died
Upon the cross, He cried, “My God, My God,
Why have you left me?” which was the first verse
Of one of David’s Psalms, and Jesus said,
“Into Your hand I do commit my spirit,”
Before he died upon the cross, as was
Written in a Davidic Psalm, and in
Another Psalm by David, David wrote,
That “he protects all of his bones; not one
Of them is broken,” prophecy fulfilled
When soldiers came to Jesus and saw that
He was already dead, and they did not
Break his legs, but one soldier pierced His side
Using a spear, and blood and water flowed
Out, as a Psalm had said: “My heart’s like wax;
It’s melted in me,” and in Zechariah
We read: “They’ll look on Me whom they have pierced.”
The stranger then reminded us that it
Went dark at noon when Jesus died, and this
Fulfilled the prophecy in Amos, “‘It
Shall come to pass that day,’” says the Lord God,
‘That I will make the sun go down at noon,
Darkening earth in daylight.’” Jesus’ tomb–
A rich man’s tomb–was prophesied back in
Isaiah, who had written, “And they made
His grave with wicked men, but with the rich
At death,” for Jesus died with robbers on
Each side, yet Joseph of Arimathea,
A wealthy man, took Jesus’ body, wrapped
It in a linen cloth, and placed it in
His tomb, a new one as His resting place.
The stranger scrutinized each scrap of Scripture,
And with his gentle talk and giant scope,
The picture came together, as though I
Had seen a vision in the wilderness
Of God’s sure plan to save the human race.
The Living Word of God is right and true.

VII.
“Snap out of it,” Cleopas said, “we have
Entered Emmaus and I want to eat.”
The stranger nodded and began to walk
Away from us, then I said, “Stay with us,
For it is nearly evening, as the day
Is almost over,” and Cleopas said
The same thing, so the stranger went to stay
With us: He shared a meal with us: He took
The bread, gave thanks, broke it and He began
To give it to us, and our eyes were opened
And we knew who He was; He disappeared—
Gone out of sight. We rubbed our eyes, looked at
Each other to make sure we weren’t insane
And asked each other, “When he talked with us

Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio

Along the road and He explained the Scriptures,
Didn’t it burn like fire within our hearts?”
At once we got up and we walked and ran
Back to Jerusalem, where we searched for
And came across th’Eleven as well as
Those with them, gathered ‘round and saying, “It
Is true! The Lord is risen and appeared
To Simon.” Then we two told what occurred
Along the way, and how, when he broke bread
We recognized our master, Jesus Christ.

~Day Williams

Envoi by Ezra Pound

Envoi

BY EZRA POUND

Go, dumb-born book,
Tell her that sang me once that song of Lawes:
Hadst thou but song
As thou hast subjects known,
Then were there cause in thee that should condone
Even my faults that heavy upon me lie
And build her glories their longevity.

Tell her that sheds
Such treasure in the air,
Recking naught else but that her graces give
Life to the moment,
I would bid them live
As roses might, in magic amber laid,
Red overwrought with orange and all made
One substance and one colour
Braving time.

Tell her that goes
With song upon her lips
But sings not out the song, nor knows
The maker of it, some other mouth,
May be as fair as hers,
Might, in new ages, gain her worshippers,
When our two dusts with Waller’s shall be laid,
Siftings on siftings in oblivion,
Till change hath broken down
All things save Beauty alone.

This Is My Letter To The World

This Is My Letter To The World

This is my letter to the world,
That never wrote to me,–
The simple news that Nature told,
With tender majesty.
Her message is committed
To hands I cannot see;
For love of her, sweet countrymen,
Judge tenderly of me!

~Emily Dickinson

Wake Up, Sleepyhead

Wake Up, Sleepyhead

Sunlight streaks across your bed
Wake up, wake up, sleepyhead
The rooster crows, the horse is fed,
Wake up, wake up, sleepyhead

On the back porch the kittens mew
Wake up, wake up, sleepyhead
The grasses sip the morning dew
Wake up, wake up, sleepyhead

Fish are swimming in the pond
Wake up, wake up, sleepyhead
Grandpa stretches, Grandma yawns
Wake up, wake up, sleepyhead

The west wind whispers in the willows
Wake up, wake up, sleepyhead
Take your head off your pillow
Wake up, wake up, sleepyhead

Barn cats scout for mice to catch
Wake up, wake up, sleepyhead
Put on your pants with many patches
Wake up, wake up, sleepyhead

~Day Williams