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The Sword Of Surprise Analysis

Author: poem of G.K. Chesterton Type: poem Views: 13

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Sunder me from my bones, O sword of God

Till they stand stark and strange as do the trees;

That I whose heart goes up with the soaring woods

May marvel as much at these.

Sunder me from my blood that in the dark

I hear that red ancestral river run

Like branching buried floods that find the sea

But never see the sun.

Give me miraculous eyes to see my eyes

Those rolling mirrors made alive in me

Terrible crystals more incredible

Than all the things they see

Sunder me from my soul, that I may see

The sins like streaming wounds, the life's brave beat

Till I shall save myself as I would save

A stranger in the street.

Submitted by Paul Clayton Smith


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The poem seems to be a reaction to the New Testament passage, Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” The poet appeals to this word of God, this sword, to pierce him and separate him from his very bones till he sees them with awe as he might be inspired by seeing trees in a wood.
Then he appeals to this sword to do its work of dividing him from his blood so he can perceive its wonders. It carries the ancient lineage from which he descends. It flows, hidden beneath his skin, not seeing the sun, like an underground river that eventually empties into the sea. The blood likewise empties into a vast sea of humanity as it flows in his progeny and eventually is subsumed into nature upon death.
The poet next prays that he might have supernatural vision to grasp the miracle of the eye. Those eyes roll back and forth and seem like mirrors with a life of their own that reflect all the world, even its ghastly evil. Like crystals they are both transparent and faceted, both transmitting light and refracting, altering it.
Lastly he prays for the revelation from that word of God which will cleave him from himself so that he can see the truth about himself, that his sins are like deep wounds that pour out blood. Yet this very bleeding reveals that there is a heart still pumping, still alive, still beating “bravely” despite the futility and inevitability of death. The poet begs that such a vision might so convict him that he would finally see the need to save himself, a need which he would easily recognized in any random person on the street but presumable cannot admit in himself.
This recognition of the true “thoughts and intentions of the heart” is the ultimate destination of his meditation on the sword (word) of God. Recognizing the hidden wonders of his own body is just the beginning of the self discovery that ultimately will lead to discovering the truth about his soul, which is not a truth that it is something grand and awe inspiring but that it is something wounded and dying, something in need of salvation from God. --JimC

| Posted on 2008-12-04 | by a guest

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