Sunday, October 01, 2006

Judean Hills Are Holy

Browsing through my volume of Christ and the Fine Arts by Cynthia Maus, I came across a poem titled Judean Hills are Holy. I don't know if it hit my hollow places because of the language, or because it was placed in the book on a page across from a reproduction of the painting Christ Tempted by Satan by George Cornicelius.

Cornicelius must be fairly obscure, there is little about him on the Net. I couldn't find a copy of the painting to put here -- it was burned during WWII. The Maus book was published in 1938. Kind of a sad thing to run across a haunting work that is gone forever. Jesus' eyes are looking right "at the camera" (the artist) and his head is resting on his upraised right hand closed into a fist. It's a realistic painting, one can almost see the model with long, roughly groomed hair and beard. Behind the staring Jesus is the darkly shadowed face and ghostly light hands of Satan, also realistic, a hooded figure leaning and almost embracing Christ with arms raised high to put a simple royal crown on his head.

The poem is by William L. Stidger:

JUDEAN HILLS ARE HOLY

Judean hills are holy ...
Judean hills are fair,
For one can find the footprints
Of Jesus everywhere.

One finds them in the twilight
Beneath the singing sky,
Where shepherds watch in wonder
White planets wheeling by.

His trails are on the hillsides,
And down the dales and deeps;
He walks the high horizons
Where vesper-silence sleeps.

He haunts the lowly highways
Where human hopes have trod
The Via Dolorosa ...
Up to the heart of God.

He looms, a lonely figure,
Along the fringe of night,
As lonely as a cedar ...
Against the lonely light.

Judean hills are holy ...
Judean hills are fair,
For one can find the footprints
Of Jesus everywhere.

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