Monday, January 7, 2013

Chad Walsh

Chad Walsh (1914—1991) is the author of more than twenty books, and taught for over thirty years at Beloit College in Wisconsin, where he was professor of English, and where he helped found The Beloit Poetry Journal in 1950. He established himself as the American authority on C.S. Lewis with the publication of C.S. Lewis: Apostle to the Skeptics in 1949. Lewis had been a transforming influence on his life, in that Walsh came to Christianity from agnosticism partly through reading Lewis’ books. Walsh also became an Episcopal priest.

The following poem comes from the Chad Walsh collection, The Psalm of Christ: Forty Poems on the Twenty-Second Psalm (1982). It also appeared in the anthology A Widening Light, which was edited by Luci Shaw.

“Why hast thou forsaken me?”

Psalm 22:1

Perhaps the Socrates he had never read,
The Socrates that Socrates poorly understood,
Had the answer. From opposites, opposites
Are generated. Cold to heat, heat to cold,
Life to death, and death to life. Perhaps the grave's
Obscenity is the womb, the only one
For the glorified body. It may be
Darkness alone, darkness, black and mute,

Void of God and a human smile, filled
With hateful laughter, dirty jokes, rattling dice,
Can empty the living room of all color
So that the chromatic slide of salvation
Fully possesses the bright screen of vision.

Or perhaps, being man, it was simply
He must first go wherever man had been,
To whatever caves of loneliness, whatever
Caverns of no light, deep damp darkness,
Dripping walls of the spirit, man has known.

I have called to God and heard no answer,
I have seen the thick curtain drop, and sunlight die;
My voice has echoed back, a foolish voice,
The prayer restored intact to its silly source.
I have walked in darkness, he hung in it.
In all of my mines of night, he was there first;
In whatever dead tunnel I am lost, he finds me.
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
From his perfect darkness a voice says, I have not.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: