“Release” by Joseph Kariuki

Woodcox, Rob_El Espiritu Asciende (Part 3)
Rob Woodcox, El Espíritu Asciende (Part 3) (The Spirit Rises), 2018

You dragged me
Through the gates of pain
To song,
Love from my heart
Spilling over;

Reason, like Lucifer’s sin,
Burst away and fled.

Now the freer motion
Over the fertile ground
Will reign.

“Release” by Joseph Kariuki is from Poems from East Africa, ed. David Cook and David Rubadiri (Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers, 1971). Used by permission of the publisher.

Joseph E. Kariuki was born in 1931 in Banana Hill, Kenya. After receiving a BA from Makerere College in Uganda and further education at Cambridge University in England, he pursued a career in public administration, working with United Nations organizations in East and North Africa. He also wrote poetry, though less so after his appointment as director-general of the African Training and Research Centre in Administration for Development (CAFRAD) in 1969. His most famous poem is “Ode for Mzee” (1965), written to commemorate Jomo Kenyatta on the occasion of his becoming president of Kenya.

2 thoughts on ““Release” by Joseph Kariuki

  1. Emily,

    Rob Woodcox is a former student of mine. I was surprised to see his work on your Easter post. Do you know him as well? Or where did you come across his work?

    I must say, I’m amazed at the amount of material you share. You must have an enormous library and work many hours.

    I hope you enjoyed your Easter celebration today!

    Todd Jerdon http://www.toddjerdon.weebly.com


    1. Hi Todd,

      I do not know Rob Woodcox personally, but I corresponded with him last year when I was writing a commentary on this photograph for the Visual Commentary on Scripture (my text was Galatians 2, dying and rising in Christ; it’s yet to be published). I don’t recall how I first encountered his work, but I think it was through a Twitter or Instagram algorithm that recommended it to me. (I’ve always been interested in dance photography.) This photo stunned me with its beauty! I filed it away on my computer with tags like “deposition,” “dying,” “resting,” “resurrection,” “ascension,” “joy,” and knew I wanted to feature it sometime, and when I came across this poem I thought it made a really nice complement.



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