Solstice of the dark, the absolute Zero of the year. Praise God Who comes for us again, our lives Pulled to their fisted knot, Cinched tight with cold, drawn To the heart’s constriction; our faces Seamed like clinkers in the grate, Hands like tongs—Praise God That Christ, phoenix immortal, Springs up again from solstice ash, Drives his equatorial ray Into our cloud, emblazons Our stiff brow, fries Our chill tears. Come Christ, Most gentle and throat-pulsing Bird! O come, sweet Child! Be gladness In our church! Waken with anthems Our bare rafters! O phoenix Forever! Virgin-wombed And burning in the dark, Be born! Be born!
From The Veritable Years: Poems 1949–1966 by William Everson (Brother Antoninus). Copyright © 1998 by Jude Everson and the William Everson Literary Estate. Used with the permission of Black Sparrow Books, an imprint of David R. Godine, Publisher, Inc., godine.com.
William Everson (1912–1994) was an American poet who gained fame in the San Francisco literary renaissance of the 1950s, being classified as part of the Beat movement. Deeply influenced by the poetry of Robinson Jeffers, he wrote about the California landscape, nonviolence, the biblical narrative, and erotic love. He was married twice before converting to Catholicism in 1948, and in 1951 he entered the Dominican Order as Brother Antoninus. However, to pursue a romantic relationship with the woman who would become his third wife, he renounced his monastic vows in 1969, returning to secular life but maintaining his Christian faith and his poetic vocation. He also wrote literary criticism, taught at university, and founded a small press. His collected poems are published in three volumes.