E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake), “Brier (Good Friday)” [Poetry for Lent]

Poetry for Lent 2.001

Every Thursday during Lent, I post a poem that I find helpful for deeper engagement with Jesus’ journey to the Cross and the significance of Lent. Here is Emily Pauline Johnson’s poem “Brier (Good Friday)” from Flint and Feather: The Collected Poems of E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake). Johnson, known also by her adopted name “Tekahionwake,” was the a Canadian poet popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Her father was a hereditary Mohawk chief of mixed ancestry and her mother was an English immigrant.


Because, dear Christ, your tender, wounded arm
Bends back the brier that edges life’s long way,
That no hurt comes to heart, to soul no harm,
I do not feel the thorns so much to-day.

Because I never knew your care to tire,
Your hand to weary guiding me aright,
Because you walk before and crush the brier,
It does not pierce my feet so much to-night.

Because so often you have hearkened to
My selfish prayers, I ask but one thing now,
That these harsh hands of mine add not unto
The crown of thorns upon your bleeding brow.


Previous poems in this series:

John Donne, ‘Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness”

Langston Hughes, “The Ballad of Mary’s Son”

Gerard Manley Hopkins, “I Wake and Feel the Fell of Dark, Not Day”

Luci Shaw, “Judas, Peter”

Li-Young Lee, “Nativity”

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