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The Monday Poem > There are Too Many Saviours on My Cross by Richard Harris (3rd February)

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message 1: by Sally (new)

Sally Rees | 27 comments There are too many saviours on my cross
Richard Harris

There are too many saviours on my cross
lending their blood to flood out my ballot-box
with needs of their own.

Who put you there?
Who told you that that was your place?

You carry me secretly naked in your hearts,
and clothe me publicly in armour, saying
"God is on our side,"
Yet I openly cry
"Who is on My side? Who, tell Me who?
You who buried your sons and crippled your fathers
whilst you buried My Father in crippling His Son."

The antiquated Saxon sword, rusty in its scabbard of time,
now rises.
You gave it cause in My name,
bringing shame to the thorned head that once bled for
your salvation.
I hear your cries in the far-off byways, and your
mouth pointing north and south,
and my Calvary looms again, desperate in rebirth.
Your earth is partitioned but in contrition
it is the partition in your hearts that you must abolish.

You nightly watchers of Gethsemane,
who sat through my nightly trial delivering me from evil,
now, deserted, I watch you share your silver.
Your purse, rich in hate, bleeds my veins of love,
shattering my bone in the dust of the Bogside
and the Shankill Road.

There is no issue stronger than the tissue of love,
no need as holy as the palm outstretched in the
run of generosity,
no monstrosity greater than the anger you inflict.

Who gave you the right to increase your fold while
decreasing the pastures of My flock?
Who gave you the right? Who gave it to you, who?
and in whose name do you fight?

I am not in heaven,
I am here, hear Me.
I am with you, see Me,
I am in you, feel Me,
I am of you, be Me,
I am for you, need Me.
I am all mankind, only through kindness will you reach Me.

What masked and bannered men can rock the ark
and navigate a course to their own anointed kingdom come?
Who sailed their captain to waters that they troubled
in My font, sinking in the ignorant seas of prejudice?

There is no virgin willing to conceive in the heat of
any bloody Sunday.
You children, lying in cries on Derry streets,
pushing your innocence into the full-flushed face of Christian guns,
battling the blame on each other,
Do not grow tongues in your dying dumb wounds speaking My name.
I am not your prize in your death,
you have exorcised Me in your game of politics.

Go home to your knees, and worship Me in any cloth,
for I was never tailor-made.
And who told you I was? Who gave you the right to think it?
Take your beads in your crippled hands.
Can you count My decades?
Take My love in your crippled hearts.
Can you count the loss?

I am not orange, I am not green,
I am a half-ripe fruit, needing both colors to grow into ripeness,
and shame on you to have withered my orchard!
I, in my poverty, alone and without trust,
cry shame on you and shame on you again and again
for converting Me into a bullet and shooting Me into men's hearts.

The ageless legend of My trial grows old, and the youth of your pulse,
staggering shamelessly from barricade to grave,
filing in the book of history My needless death one April,
Let Me in My betrayal lie low in My grave,
and you in your bitterness lie low in yours,
for our measurements grow strangely dissimilar.

Our Father, who art in Heaven, sullied be Thy Name!


message 2: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Gosh, what a powerful poem! I am not sure that I understand all of it, but the end is fairly clear. Thanks Sally, I will be revisiting this!


message 3: by Dhanaraj (new)

Dhanaraj Rajan | 2962 comments Powerful and scathing attack on the present political situations. Liked the poem.

Interesting lines:

"There are too many saviours on my cross"

"Our Father, who art in Heaven, sullied be Thy Name!"


message 4: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Now here's a first. I actually printed this just now, so I could sit with it and read without the distraction of staring at a screen and because I anticipate that I will be reading this a lot.

I feel like I just held my face into a storm. And what a powerful one!!!

Thank you Sally.


message 5: by Gill (new)

Gill | 5720 comments I love the verse that starts 'I am not orange I am not green' Actually I love it all and need to read it again. Thanks Sally


message 6: by Gill (last edited Feb 03, 2014 01:09PM) (new)

Gill | 5720 comments Sally, I see you are from Northern Ireland. Are you able to tell us anything about the poet? It's not the McArthur Park Richard Harris, is it?


message 7: by Sally (new)

Sally Rees | 27 comments Gill wrote: "Sally, I see you are from Northern Ireland. Are you able to tell us anything about the poet? It's not the McArthur Park Richard Harris, is it?"
Gill it is indeed the late actor. Richard Harris. I was first introduced to this poem about 17 years ago when I first started teaching my an English teaching colleague. The power and force of it have never left me. You just have to read it aloud @ Jenny. You have as always described so wonderfully it as being hit by a storm :-)
I just love the use of religious imagery throughout and it sends such a powerful message about how religion can be utilised by warring factions to justify their battles.
There are of course many references to the northern Irish conflict. And I believe his intention was as a plea for peace.
I look forward to hearing more of what you all think.


message 8: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Gill, I agree about the verse about orange & green but I think that the part that hit me the hardest was:

"Who gave you the right to increase your fold while
decreasing the pastures of My flock?
Who gave you the right? Who gave it to you, who?
and in whose name do you fight?"



message 9: by LauraT (new)

LauraT (laurata) | 13413 comments Mod
Definitly not a poem to read carelessly ...
Like it a lot, though I have to look at it more closly ...


message 10: by Sally (new)

Sally Rees | 27 comments Gill I too love that verse I am not orange. I am not green, especially the line 'shame on you again and again for converting Me into a bullet and shooting Me into mens ' hearts"
I also love the line 'Go home to your knees, and worship me in any cloth, for I was never tailor-made' which for me really reinforces how people shape religion to suit their own needs and justify their causes.
Leslie I also think that section is really powerful and feel the use of questions through out give the poem it's angry voice as it were.


message 11: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Sally, I've just tried to find a bit more of his poetry online, but couldn't. Did he ever actually publish a collection of poetry?


message 12: by Dhanaraj (new)

Dhanaraj Rajan | 2962 comments One Nation Under Curse. It may be the book by this author. Only Sally has to say.....


message 13: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments OH, I didn't see this one. Thanks Dhanaraj! Is it Sally?


message 14: by Gill (new)

Gill | 5720 comments https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5...

I'm pretty certain this is him, but over to Sally. Do you know the song McArthur Park? That's the same Richard Harris


message 15: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Very strange song


message 16: by Alannah (new)

Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11958 comments Mod
A great poem, very interesting.


message 17: by Erica (new)

Erica | 867 comments I have just come across this thread and poem...how powerful. I hate when people use God's name to justify their cruel actions. I particularly like the verse beginning: "I am not in heaven..."


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