The speaker in Rossetti’s poem feels like a stone for being unable to properly grieve the suffering and death of Christ.
Am I a stone, and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy blood’s slow loss,
And yet not weep?
Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter, weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;
Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon –
I, only I.
Yet give not o’er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.
* * *
The women who stood at the foot of the cross; the disciple Peter; even the thief crucified beside Jesus—all these wept grievous tears. Even the sun and the moon “hid their faces” as though putting on sackcloth. Only the poet—”I, only I”—cannot seem to summon the appropriate emotion. What’s wrong with her?
“Please, Lord,” she prays, “don’t give up on me. I am but a sheep, You are the Shepherd. Since I cannot find You, will You please seek me out and find me? Just as Moses struck the rock and water gushed out, and just as one glance from You broke the heart of Peter (whose name means rock), look also at me. Melt me and open the well of my tears.”
Amen, Lord Jesus. Bring us all to the foot of Your cross and smite these stony hearts.
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