The Annunciation of Our Lord to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Annunciation of Our Lord to the Blessed Virgin Mary.


Yesterday was the Feast of the Annunciation and I am reminded of some lines by the Scottish poet John Burnside, who was born just about twenty-four hours before me in March 1955.  So this is a special time and recalls a special moment for Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Burnside connects the season with the mystery not just of a changing earth, but of an encounter whereby what is normal becomes of the nature of the divine.  But, then again, is it not all of the miracle of God?


It looks like that time

again: the fields getting warm


and birds in the orchard that

last week, were somewhere else.


Not spring,

or not just Spring


and summer is still to come

at the edge of the yard


where something that stirs

in the ditch mistakes itself


for the angel of God

before making its way indoors


to the oatcake and buttermilk scent

of the kitchen, this late afternoon,


the wireless repeating

its litany, into the dusk,


of wildflowers, jazzmen,

wading birds, absent friends.


Burnside wrote these lines in honour of the 70th Birthday of the Belfast poet Michael Longley (who will be 80 later this year) whose closeness to all four things referenced in the last two lines brings him a quiet longing for an encounter that is deep and meaningful, that some, though not all, may take as the whisper of the breath of God.


John Mann