It Came To Pass

Expressions of life – lived and observed.

Look To The East!

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We were young, we were merry, we were very very wise,

And the door stood open at our feast,
When there passed us a woman with the West in her eyes,
And a man with his back to the East.

O, still grew the hearts that were beating so fast,
The loudest voice was still.
The jest died away on our lips as they passed,
And the rays of July struck chill.

The cups of red wine turned pale on the board,
The white bread black as soot.
The hound forgot the hand of her lord,
She fell down at his foot.

Low let me lie, where the dead dog lies,
Ere I sit me down again at a feast,
When there passes a woman with the West in her eyes,
And a man with his back to the East.


This poem of Mary Coleridge fascinated me years ago when I read it for the first time. Who were the woman ‘with the west in her eyes’, and the ‘man with his back to the east’?

I pondered this westward looking, and westward travelling couple. It seemed to me that they represented those who were forever pursuing the sun, chasing after youth, running after enjoyment and pleasures, but falling ever further and further behind. They would end up running through the forever darkness, in which the sun was but a distant memory that they still pursued, in the hope that one day they would recapture all that they had lost, and never owned. The revellers, watching from the party on the sidelines, saw them and were touched – not by life but by death – and realised how close they were to joining the frantic and despairing couple, on their endless journey into night.

And reality? As the sun disappears in the west, and takes with it the day as we have known it, a new day is preparing itself in the East; a day that we do not have to pursue, but which is coming to us;

because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

(Luke 1:78-79)

Which way are we facing – away from, or towards, the true Day?



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