The Airy Christ

By Stevie Smith 1902–1971 Stevie Smith

After reading Dr Rieu’s translation of St Mark’s Gospel.

Who is this that comes in splendour, coming from the blazing East?
This is he we had not thought of, this is he the airy Christ.

Airy, in an airy manner in an airy parkland walking,   
Others take him by the hand, lead him, do the talking.

But the Form, the airy One, frowns an airy frown,
What they say he knows must be, but he looks aloofly down,

Looks aloofly at his feet, looks aloofly at his hands,
Knows they must, as prophets say, nailèd be to wooden bands.

As he knows the words he sings, that he sings so happily   
Must be changed to working laws, yet sings he ceaselessly.

Those who truly hear the voice, the words, the happy song,   
Never shall need working laws to keep from doing wrong.

Deaf men will pretend sometimes they hear the song, the words,   
And make excuse to sin extremely; this will be absurd.

Heed it not. Whatever foolish men may do the song is cried   
For those who hear, and the sweet singer does not care that he was crucified.

For he does not wish that men should love him more than anything
Because he died; he only wishes they would hear him sing.

Stevie Smith, “The Airy Christ” from New Selected Poems. Copyright © 1972 by Stevie Smith. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: The New Selected Poems of Stevie Smith (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1988)

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Poet Stevie Smith 1902–1971

POET’S REGION England

Subjects Religion, Social Commentaries, Christianity

Poetic Terms Couplet

 Stevie  Smith

Biography

Calling Stevie Smith's Not Waving but Drowning "the best collection of new poems to appear in 1957," Poetry contributor David Wright observed that "as one of the most original women poets now writing [Stevie Smith] seems to have missed most of the public accolades bestowed by critics and anthologists. One reason may be that not only does she belong to no 'school'—whether real or invented as they usually are—but her work is so . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion, Social Commentaries, Christianity

POET’S REGION England

Poetic Terms Couplet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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