I love George MacDonald a lot — enough to write an entire dissertation on him, in fact. I also love poetry, and keep my eye open for any text that features imagery of weaving or sewing. However, of all the genres he employed (fantastical fiction, sermons, essays, and more), poetry is MacDonald’s weakest. The clarity and depth of his fairy tales find no match in his somewhat cumbersome verses. (It’s fascinating to me how great writers so often excel in some genres and fall flat in others. Christina Rossetti, for example, is one of the nineteenth-century’s greatest lyricists, but her fairy tales are tedious and flat!).
Even though poetry was not MacDonald’s best genre, I was still excited to learn that MacDonald once published a poem about one of my favorite Bible characters: Dorcas (also called Tabitha), a woman whose story is recorded in Acts 9:36-42. She was a member of the early church in Joppa, and was raised from the dead by the Apostle Peter. With a tender attention to detail, Luke records that Dorcas’s mourners–including many poor widows– were eager to show Peter the robes and other clothes that Dorcas had made for them.
MacDonald imagines Dorcas’s generosity coming from her desire to clothe Jesus himself. After envying the person who wove Christ’s robe, she hears Him say that any who clothe the naked are caring for His own body. Returning to her loom, Dorcas spends the rest of her life adorning “Christ’s poor” with the work of her hands.
Weaving, sewing, care for the poor — all springing from the love of Christ. That’s enough to make me love this poem, even if the syntax is clumsy.
Read the whole poem here.
Image source here.