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To lie in the dark and ask for day. To name the unborn
daughter Dawn, the shortest street Aurora. O Oriens:
Light that breaks, that cracks the void; match for God
to phosphoresce with a gust of words. O Dayspring:
eruption of sunup, bright geyser that seasons tug
to either side of the equinox along a convex east.

O come, O come, Emmanuel: radiance unending,
radiance being and unbegun; O Come, Emmanuel,
Light that breaks, braking the day; Come, darkness
at noon and Morning Star. Come, sun in a womb,
pillar of fire, infant defiant of the very astronomy
he foreordained, breaker of stars’ staid patterns.
To dazzle the magi. To flood the tomb in light.

Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

Jane Zwart

Jane Zwart teaches at Calvin University, where she co-directs the Calvin Center for Faith & Writing. Her poems have appeared in PoetryPloughshares, and TriQuarterly, as well as other journals and magazines.


  • John Kleinheksel says:

    Brilliant, Jane!
    I had to look up that “phosphoresce” word. Well, emitting light. OK.
    and “O Oriens” (dawn of the East). Captured in song from scripture.

    But then, the second stanza: “. . . .radiance unending/ radiance being and uqbegun.” In His birth, He was “yet begun.” Well, OK, “begotten, not made.” And from Mary’s womb, as at the first creation. Someone new, out of the old. The First Light, shining once again in our darkness.
    Seen in the regularity of galactic and cellular motion (measurable, because dependable) and yet, starting over with a surprising one-of-a-kind birth, death and resurrection (not scientifically measurable). And now science knows there’s mystery in the planetary and cellular motion. “Defiant of the astronomy” He created. Love it.
    The mystery of our faith, Jane, so well captured in your verse. Surely made me think. Thank you!

  • Jan Heerspink says:

    Light that breaks, braking the day.
    Don’t read too fast, or you will miss these beautiful phrases!
    I have printed this to read again and again, Jane.
    Thank you.