Now the Green Blade Riseth

New GrassNow the green blade riseth
from the buried grain,
wheat that in the dark earth
many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again
like wheat that springeth green.

— from hymn #204, The Hymnal 1982 (Episcopal)


We invite you to spend time in contemplation with these words from wise ones. Then join in the conversation with your own poetic response.

You can enter into conversation with this text by adding your haiku response below.

About Margaret D. McGee


  1. Marybeth Bland says:

    In the yard
    a splash of color
    rododendrums abloom

    purple buds
    crest peonies

  2. Marybeth beat me to making the first comment this month!

    The quote for May comes from one of my favorite Easter season hymns. I chose it because the grass is springing up and flowering in our meadow right now. And the evenings are getting long…

    [editing this poem 5/3]

    in slowly fading light
    between bird song

    • Marybeth Bland says:

      Sorry about that , Margaret.
      It is that time of year. I awake early ready to greet the day. Friday loves the sun as much as nickel. When I am in the house he lies outside at the same place that nickrl did.

      He suns on the deck
      near the open door
      always alert

  3. carolyn says:

    Would you teach me how to operate that thing?

    Sure I said. All you need to do is remember which peddle is forward and which is reverse. The brake is on the opposite side. If your bottom leaves the seat the motor stops automatically. Really the tricky thing to remember it is won’t cut in reverse. You gotta fool with the ignition thingy. I just disengage the blades and back then re engage and go forward.

    Can I try? She asks timidly.

    Sure! Fire ‘er up lower the deck pull the engage knob. Wait let me get in the shed in case you run amuck. atta, Girl, you got it!

    verdant spears
    reaching skyward
    sound of mowers

  4. Carolyn says:

    Thanks, Margaret. Terrific weather for cutting grass.

  5. Dear Margaret,
    Thank you for the quote for May and for your very inspiring and beautiful explanation that the quote it is from one of your favorite Easter hymns.

    hazelnut blossoms
    my child’s pose

    (child’s pose, a resting posture in yoga)

  6. carolyn says:

    blue moon
    wisteria climbs the fence
    heady perfume

    • carolyn says:

      My original version

      blue wisteria
      climbs the fence
      drunk with perfume

    • This is an interesting poem, Carolyn. Have to say I like it with “blue moon” in there. I like the wisteria climbing the fence under a blue moon — feels as if the wisteria is climbing to be close to the moon. The only problem I have with the “blue moon” version is that it breaks after both the first and second line. I’m tempted to add a preposition to tie the 2nd and 3rd lines together, something like:

      blue moon
      wisteria climbs the fence
      in heady perfume

      But not sure that’s quite it…

      Anyway, I like this one better. In the first version, it reads as if the wisteria is drunk on its own perfume, and that doesn’t feel quite right to me.

      • carolyn says:

        Blue moon is a type of wisteria — too many syllables with wisteria in the first line. I like the addition of the preposition in.

  7. CaroleAnn Lovin says:


    dark earth and soft rain again —
    weeds fill the beds

    • CaroleAnn, this really works for me. I like the way the first two lines draw me in, because I too am loving the dark earth and soft rain again. Then the third line makes me smile — yes of course, that’s happening too. And it makes me think … so the weeds also love the dark earth and soft rain … which makes me identify with the weeds … which takes me interesting places, thinking about the wild places within, and how we judge the “weedy” parts of ourselves, the way we judge the “weedy” parts of the garden.

      So … rich stuff! Thanks.

  8. I am still a novice… I was out running and these words came to me:

    making tracks
    robin cheers me on
    the path of change

    • Tanya, thanks for sharing this poem. The robins cheer me on too, with their cheer-y-up song.

      This poem works better for me when I know that it came to you while you were out running. If I didn’t have that detail, I think I would read the first line metaphorically rather than literally, and it would be too abstract.

      You know, I think this poem would work really well in a haibun. A haibun is a combination of poetic prose and haiku. Usually it’s a short piece of prose, maybe a paragraph, followed by a haiku. It might be interesting to write a paragraph about the run, the physical sensation, maybe details from the route, how you felt, what you were thinking about. Help get me grounded. Then cap the paragraph with your haiku.

      Just a thought…
      Thanks for sharing.

      • Thanks Margaret, I really appreciate the suggestion. I often seem to write about things that are physical but also have metaphorical significance. There is an aspect of this poem that speak to both physical and spiritual transformation -and how important to have moments that cheer us on:) I also like the simple image of runners squishing into the muddy path in spring when the trails have not dried up yet. Haiku is so rich.

  9. Alison Hedlund says:

    This prompt was inspiring, but in a negative way….

    Staff of Death

    “Now the green blade riseth
from the buried grain…

    You call it love that rises
    forth from this field so green,
    yet wheat is a silent killer
    that blossoms in many as pain.

    Illness ushers forth from this field,
    and bit by bit it is felt.
    Gluten is a slow drip of poison
    for those to whom the genes are dealt.

    It’s a mistake that Fate has handed us.
    For millennia we have suffered and died.
    Even today the cause it isn’t well-known
    and 95% go undiagnosed, agonized.

    The “staff of life” is death to many,
    includes small stature, bad teeth and weak bones.
    The afflictions we suffer are plenty.
    Over 300 listed, alone.

    Who knew? Wheat looks so healthy,
    The toxins quite hidden in a grain.
    None would think it deathly…
    growing lush in a field so green.

    • Hi Alison,

      Thanks for sharing your poem — you made me think about the strengths and weaknesses of religious symbolism. Shared symbolism is an incredibly powerful tool for bringing people together. But when the symbol represents something different to an individual, then instead of creating community, use of the symbol pushes that individual out of the circle. And if the person doesn’t say anything, this can happen invisibly.

      Another example: over the years I’ve become less and less comfortable with the paternal language in religion (Our Father, who art…) It’s a key part of Christianity — Jesus uses paternal terminology over and over to refer to God. And Fatherhood is a powerful symbol of love and care. It permeates our religious language. But an individual’s experience of “my father” is so unique — and not always what you want to mix up with divinity. And it’s so personal. Someone with a difficult father relationship might not want to talk about it much. So then the use of that language can invisibly exclude the very person it’s meant to include and comfort.

      For me, the wheat/bread religious symbolism works fine, because wheat bread has been a healthy staple in my diet all my life. Your poem reminds me that it’s not that way for everyone. I’m glad my parish offers gluten-free wafers as a choice at communion. Then I ask myself — what if we went to all gluten-free, instead of offering the choice? Oh, but then we’re fiddling with the symbol that works for me! And I find that I don’t like that very much.

      So … it’s difficult. I’m glad the hymn inspired you to inspire me to think about it.

  10. Alison Hedlund says:

    I appreciate your very thoughtful response, Margaret. Just want to say that more and more, the research is that grains are not as healthy as we once thought, and not just the gluten grains (which have been estimated to affect 20 to 40% of everyone in a negative way, not just the 1% of the population that has diagnosed, exacerbated celiac disease). There’s a popular new book out called “Grain Brain” that is worth a read. However, agriculture was the vehicle for many people to be fed, and cultures to expand. So our past is intertwined with these grains. Also, so are plagues, which were spread as rats got into the grain stores….and early deaths due to nutritional deficiencies (leading to sickly babies, children, and those who survived to adulthood). It’s complicated, for sure.

    I am interested in the research about Mary Magdalene coming out these days from different places. How the sacred partnership (probably marriage) that she and Jesus had was denied in favor of the establishment of a patriarchal power structure in which the female role was downplayed and restricted. Well, we could go on and on… 😉

  11. Carolyn says:

    blessing the bread…….
    morning dew
    on the grain field

  12. Marybeth Bland says:

    I am back from a women’s retreat at Westport WA. It poured as it did here. I stayed in the hotel looking out, others took Friday down by the sea,. He made friends with a 7 month terrier. He was ever so gentle

    And after dinner and Sundsy morning we worshipped as Quakers do.

    we sit in silence
    rain hits the windows
    my dog stirs


  13. carolyn says:

    I have lived here thirty seven years and always we have unusual weather but this is a first for me.

    thunder and lightning
    fill the black sky
    snow on the roadway

    • Marybeth Bland says:


      I just read your haiku . My first response, “wow! ” that combination in May is also new to me,

      • carolyn says:

        There was probably more hail than snow but boy it sure looked like snow on the windshield. Weird weather huh?

    • Thunder, lightning, snow/hail, and the grass in our meadow is waist high! We’re getting it all this spring.

  14. Marybeth Bland says:

    wedding anniversary
    billy Joel’s birthday
    we celebrate

    This haiku just jumped out. I am from new York. My husband from Washington. We met here at a job but flew home to be married in the church I was raised. When we were back on long island the radio DJ played piano man , a song by Billy Joel. He announced it was his birtthday

    I hold a red rose
    The organ plays
    we kiss

  15. Marybeth Bland says:

    I do not have a haiku yet but I must describe the day. Sun, blue skies, no clouds , a gentle breeze, temperatures near 80,, my white dog sunning on the deck just as my black dog did. Honeybees are fertilizing my peonies buds. Rododendrums are blooming and I think I might see the start of cherries on my trees. Those of us in the pacific Nortwest yearn for these days. Now it is here.

    I inhale
    smelling lilacs

  16. Carolyn says:

    silver shadows
    In early morning light
    doves coo

  17. slumped down and mournful
    this must be the end of it
    spring breaks forth again

    • Sam, welcome to the Courtyard! Thanks for sharing your poem. It makes me think of all the times I let myself get overwhelmed with life’s difficulties, forgetting that whatever’s happening is really just a passing moment … things change … spring breaks forth again.

  18. Carolyn says:

    Frosty Snowman
    removes his hat and scarf
    spring thaw

  19. Marybeth Bland says:

    I recently took my new service dog, Friday to meet my retired service dog, Nickel. I has not seen Nickel since December 12, 2013. He retiree the day before Friday arrived, I had told Nickel about Friday and how he was coming to help. Nickel no longer wanted to work. A life of leisure was his reward. He went to a farm in tenino . The owners friends of ours rescue alpacas.

    my new dog
    eyes the old
    play begins

    Momma and baby
    watch the race

  20. Marybeth Bland says:

    a scrub jay
    perches on the rail
    fllies to the tree

    my dog barks
    it is gone

  21. carolyn says:

    If mother were living, she would be one hundred thirteen years old today. Mother gave me excellent work ethics, rules for good manners and behavior (the behavior rules sometimes escape(d )me) and a love of puttering around. She was my automatic spell checker during my school years although she only attended school to fifth grade. She gave me a strong sense of women’s rights and independence. She was a woman ahead of her times. What a lucky kid I was to have her!

    scent of wild roses

  22. For those of you who follow only in the comment stream, this is to let you know that I have posted a new Lectio+Haiku … and since I’m late posting for June, and the summer solstice approaches, we might just let this one be our summer inspiration, and let it stick around into July and August. You’ll find the new posting at the top of the list on the Courtyard’s main page:

    To receive notification of comments to the new posting, make a comment on that post and click the “Notify me of follow-up comments by email” box BEFORE clicking Post Comment.

    I look forward to new poetry!

  23. Marybeth Bland says:

    Margaret , before I add a haiku I want to say that your web page the courtyard brings me to the Marriott hotel. Did you mean to type in the courtyard?

    Now my haiku

    from tree tops
    crows toss cherries
    not yet ripe

    on our walk
    my dog devours them

    • Marybeth, thank you very much for letting me know about my typo in the web address! I fixed it.
      And hope you don’t mind — I’m also going to copy your cherry haiku to the new posting, and will comment on it there.