Mary Dyer’s Hymn
“I am drowning in the past” (John Berryman, Homage to Mistress Bradstreet and Other Poems).
The Lord came with his power today,
filling up the crisp October day,
playing upon open hearts,
so we sang free together.
Then the Marshall asked finally
aren’t you ashamed to walk between these men
but oh no I said
joy erupts inside – I did love our Lord.
That we should come to this hour of death
is not right on the 27th day of
the Lord’s 10th month to be hanged.
Our love stays us now.
Declaring to all amidst the noisy drumming
how this became the hour of greatest joy —
no ear can hear like this one —
no tongue can utter joy entire,
no heart can beat such passion.
The soul shall live in everlasting paradise,
commanded of the Lord God himself,
my teacher and guide
and I rejoice in silent hymns of praise
to live in Christ my Father –
shedding blood, I drown and wail.
The Law requires my blood
while I witness and wait in his Power.
A cursed Quaker. I love my husband …
(innocent blood spreads in my veins)
these are not Self-Ends.
The Governor destroys the Holy Seed
with whom life entire is wrapped up.
Were there ever like Laws, heard, here within
people like myself and Fellows
among People who are possessed by
the Christ in the flesh among us?
Hopelessly in thrall, our Enemy pounces
upon us all, now in the name of Boston
to prod the inward Law.
Like Esther and her King,
I am faithful witness,
emanating Joy as the Lord wills.
Coming together against the drums
pricks me hard, blood runs deep
and still they persist in evil.
Hell and blood be done, oh tyrant Boston,
strip these my veins.
His plague be upon you,
all present here at these gallows.
My eyes are clear to the inward Christ.
We listened to George Fox and his dreams
rumble into the distant evening
about a great People to be gathered
how in his depression and melancholy,
he imagined an Ocean of Light
to overcome an Ocean of Darkness in his heart.
We breathed love’s sweet perfume in our heart,
open to the gathering darkness and our dreams,
sliding on steep rubble into the waning light,
pierced by Cupid’s arrow in an elongated evening,
our rhythmic steps in tune, overcoming painful melancholy,
become wanderers in new bodies to be gathered.
We walked into West Yorkshire together, gathered
into a cloud of fleshy riot of the heart,
squeezing through stiles, stepping over our melancholy,
hearts aching, nearly overcome by hideous dreams,
overlooking the Irish Sea on a perfectly clear evening
to walk across thick, springy moss into a disappearing light.
We prayed to be guided by the Quaker Inner Light,
unable to stay still, hard gravel at the feet, we gathered
the roots of Quakerism up Pendel Hill into the evening
as a stiff wind blew around, filling the heart,
touched by a music in our loins, dreams
blocking out depression, melancholy.
We looked to George Fox, how he overcame his troubled melancholy
as we followed his Quaker footsteps into the Light.
We tuned-up our evening dreams
like feeling a new blood coursing through us, gathered
out of the windy fell-tops of the heart
to enter fully into a meditative rest on a July evening.
We heard organ-like lectures by John Punshon through the evening
how Fox’s great vision overcame his melancholy,
his footsteps taking him into his shattered heart,
unable to resist the impulse to see an Ocean of Light,
how it was now possible to realize a great People, gathered
together, a truth carried by his body and words into dreams.
We entered the oncoming evening and Fox’s dreams,
realizing that his own melancholy gathered
all together into the heart of our Quaker Inner Light.