Song of blind Bartimaeus after his healing | Madeleine L’Engle
All praise to thee, my God, this night for all I see, both night and day. All praise for loveliness of things! During the shadows of un-sight you kept the raging fears at bay. All praise to thee, my God, this night for all the blessings of the light, for sand and sun and eagles' wings, all praise for loveliness of things! Praise for sandals, garments white, for children's faces, eyes alight, all praise to thee, my God, this night. All praise for butterflies in flight, for work-worn hands, for golden hay, the purple shadows evening brings, for brass and copper polished bright, for lifting light that shows the way, all praise to thee, my God, this night, all praise for loveliness of things!
This poem is inspired by the healing of Bartimaeus, which is the gospel reading assigned in our lectionary for this Sunday, Mark 10:46-52. I purchased a book of Madeleine L’Engle’s poetry last week at our community library’s book sale, and came across this poem. (The book is “A Cry Like a Bell.”) This particular poem offers a lovely reflection by L’Engle on the song that Bartimaeus might have sung after his healing. It seems to me that L’Engle is inspired here by the famous hymn, “All Praise to Thee, My God, This Night” by Thomas Ken. Here is its first stanza:
All praise to thee, my God, this night, For all the blessings of the light. Keep me, O keep me, King of kings, Beneath the shelter of Your wings.
Of course, my guess is that the “blessings of the light” would take on a different meaning for someone who is blind. But isn’t it interesting for L’Engle to base her poem on one that is traditionally sung in the dark of night? In L’Engle’s poem, Bartimaeus is praising God for sight, and for light, and for now seeing in a new way “the loveliness of things.” But he is also praising God for keeping “the raging fears at bay” during his “shadows of un-sight.”
For Bartimaeus, his long “night” is now over, but perhaps each night would remind him of the gift that Jesus gave him. L’Engle’s song of Bartimaeus is a lovely poem that reminds us all to give thanks to God for all our many blessings: the blessings of the light, but also the gift of God’s presence whenever we face our own “night,” no matter what that “night” may look like.
One thought on “Song of Blind Bartimaeus After His Healing by Madeleine L’Engle”
A wonderful reflection on what Bartimaeus must have felt having been given that precious gift of sight! And L’Engle’s use of the hymn and augmented villanelle form is just perfect! Made me think of “Pied Beauty” by Hopkins.
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