Here’s a poem written by the Anglican priest and poet Malcolm Guite. Guite is a prolific author, putting out a new poetry book every few years and maintaining a very active blog. He’s one of the few contemporary poets to write in form and meter. The following is a sonnet for Michaelmas; you can read the original here.

Michaelmas in the Anglican tradition falls on Sept. 29 and is associated both with the archangel Michael and with the onset of autumn, the “shortening of days.”  (Hence in the poem below you notice the references to dead leaves and the changing of the seasons.) The “shortening of days” is a sign that the year is coming to an end, and thereby a metaphor for the world coming to its end.  In the latter event, Michael of course plays an active role.  So Michaelmas tips the scales of the church year, so to speak, from concern about the present life of faith to concern about final realities.


Michaelmas gales assail the waning year,
And Michael’s scale is true, his blade is bright.
He strips dead leaves; and leaves the living clear
To flourish in the touch and reach of light.
Archangel bring your balance, help me turn
Upon this turning world with you and dance
In the Great Dance. Draw near, help me discern,
And trace the hidden grace in change and chance.
Angel of fire, Love’s fierce radiance,
Drive through the deep until the steep waves part,
Undo the dragon’s sinuous influence
And pierce the clotted darkness in my heart.
Unchain the child you find there, break the spell
And overthrow the tyrannies of Hell.

~ Malcolm Guite (1957-       )


About middlingpoet

From the Gawain poet to Rainer Maria Rilke: I love traditional poetry.
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2 Responses to Michaelmas

  1. malcolmguite says:

    Thanks for posting this. Glad you liked it. What a pleasure to find someone who also likes Dryden and Milton. I agree with almost everything you say about all things middling!

    • middlingpoet says:

      Thanks for stopping by! And thanks for the poetry — I don’t know how you have time to write it all. It’s great to find someone still working in the great Anglican poetic tradition.

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