The Friendly Stranger

‘The Light of the World,’ Painting by William Holman Hunt (1853–1854)

Dawn light dances through the cyan night,
twinkling bright as if cradled in the olive branches,
whose trunks warp as they are blown left-to-right,
like they are dancing 
underneath the candlelight, they turn white,
shaped like seams across the Mount of Olives—
slowly, softly refracting the light
that’s burning from a distant lantern’s relives.
A figure moves to the fore—
 caped in red and wearing silken cream,
with a golden crown chained with thorn,
 jewels on his brooch jinking like a dream.
A hand reaches for the weeded door,
rapping thrice—waiting to help the poor. 

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me”

 Revelation 3:20

‘The Friendly Stranger’ is another poem from my archives. Much like In ‘In Manus Tuas Domine’ ( which can be found here: https://electrifyinglylit.com/2021/06/30/in-manus-tuas-domine-a-poem/), the poem is a creative response to a painting that’s on display at the Manchester Art Gallery.

‘The Light of the World’ is one of those paintings where photographs don’t do it justice. If you’re in that neck end of the woods, I really recommend that you go and check it out. Like so many paintings on display at the Gallery, ‘The Light of the World’ just has the ability to spur ideas for poems. Hunt’s attention to Jesus’ features is really canny, and the colour palette is vibrant and just sucks you into the painting.

What do you think of this poem? Let me know in the comments below, or by liking this poem. Don’t be afraid of sharing your opinions!


© Thomas Gallimore Barker, 2021

(@electri_fried)

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