I have reflected upon this poem in past E-spirations, but it’s such a prayerful poem that I wanted to revisit it.
“I See His Blood Upon the Rose” is a perfect reminder of God’s great gift of love as revealed through the suffering and rising of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word. In this poem, all created things seem to remind the poet of God’s incredible love, dramatized through the person of Christ.
About the Poet, Joseph Mary Plunkett
Born in Dublin in 1887, Joseph Plunkett wrote many poems of rare, mystical force. Plunkett was one of the signers of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic and was imprisoned by the English army. He was executed in 1916 for his part in the 1916 Easter Rising. Shortly before his execution on May 4, he married his fiancée, Grace Gifford, in the jail’s chapel. Plunkett was 28 years old.
Because of his great love for the Incarnate Word—and the Word’s close connection to all created things—Plunkett saw Christ’s destiny and great love as forever entwined with this earth and this universe.
“I See His Blood upon the Rose”
I see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.
I see his face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but his voice—and carven by his power
Rocks are his written words. All pathways by his feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree.”
My Line-by-Line Meditations
I see his blood upon the rose
When we gaze at a rose—or any other part of this universe—we see not only the individual beauty of the rose, but also the intensity of God’s care behind that rose and behind the universe itself.
And in the stars the glory of his eyes
In the stars, we see not only the glory of his death and total self-giving, but also the glory of his risen body and his death-conquering gaze.
His body gleams amid eternal snows
When we look at snowcapped mountains or other snowy vistas, we might see glimpses of Christ’s pale body, as when taken down from the cross—or his glorified, transfigured body shining brighter than snow.
His tears fall from skies
Again, behind the lovely everyday processes of nature, we can’t help seeing the love of our Great Lover—and the tears he shed over Jerusalem or during his agony in the garden.
I see his face in every flower
Every flower, indeed everything in this universe, reminds us of Christ. As St. Paul tells the Colossians (1:16), “All things were created through him and for him.” We recall, too, that St. Francis saw in the beauty of flowers the One who is Beauty itself.
The thunder and singing of the birds/Are but his voice
Singing birds and all other sounds of nature communicate one thing: God’s great love for us.
And carven by his power/Rocks are his written words
Christ, the Word made flesh, is truly intermingled with the universe. Creation itself is a reflection of the Word through whom “all things came to be” (Jn 1:3).
All pathways by his feet are worn
At the Incarnation, God made this world his home. Every path, trail, and road of this earth has taken on an elevated dignity and meaning because of the pathways Christ took while accomplishing his mission on earth. All paths remind us of the pathway he took to save us—the Way of the Cross.
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea
In the sea pounding against the jagged coast, we get glimpses of Christ’s mighty heart pounding with love for us.
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn
Every thorn is somehow intertwined with Christ’s crown of thorns. Indeed, in every created thing we see Christ’s saving love.
His cross is every tree
Behind every tree, we can see Christ’s cross—and the Creator’s unconditional love.
Dear Friar Jim: Thank you so much for your reflection. You touched my heart deeply at a moment when I needed it most. I don’t recognize Jesus because my sins blind me. But he is here anyway. That helps me a lot. Mark
A: Dear Mark: There is never a moment when Jesus does not have his arm around us. Did you ever feel his breath on your neck in a moment of hopelessness? He’s even closer than that. Friar Jim
Dear Friar Jim: What a beautiful E-spiration! I am 73 years old and have many troubles—like most elderly people—and often I think about dying. I love my faith, family, and friends, but I’m not as happy as I used to be. But I do try to keep myself and my soul strong. Your beautiful newsletter made me happy, and I will read it often to keep me peaceful. Thank you for all your beautiful E-spirations. Judy
A: Dear Judy: When I think about death, I imagine my mom and dad waiting anxiously for me with my sister so we can embrace with our hearts filled with God’s love. Heaven is actually a reunion of those who love one another. In other words, it’s not death to look forward to, but rather a joyful reunion. Friar Jim
Dear Friar Jim: My husband of 54 years reached that point on May 7 as he raised his hand to go to God. I know he was met by our daughter and his mother and father. Thank you for putting it so beautifully. It makes me happy to know he is with his family in heaven. Gayle
A: Dear Gayle: Yes, and just imagine the meeting of Joseph and Mary, when she completed her life on this earth. Isn’t it amazing what our faith explains to us with such clarity and truth? Friar Jim