Friday, April 22, 2011

Poem for Ridván by Robert Hayden

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.... And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Bahá’u’lláh in the Garden of Ridván

Agonies confirm His hour,
and swords like compass-needles turn
toward His heart,

The midnight air is forested
with presences that shelter Him
and sheltering praise

The auroral darkness which is God
and sing the word made flesh again
in Him.

Eternal exile whose return
epiphanies repeatedly

He watches in a borrowed garden,
prays. And sleepers toss upon
their armored beds,

Half-roused by golden knocking at
the doors of consciousness. Energies
like angels dance

Glorias of recognition.
Within the rock the undiscovered suns
release their light.

                                    Robert Hayden

Robert Hayden was born Asa Bundy Sheffey in Detroit, Michigan.  Because he was nearsighted and slight of stature, he was often ostracized by his peer group. Hayden read voraciously, developing both an ear and an eye for transformative qualities in literature. He attended Detroit City College (Wayne State University), and left in 1936 to work for the Federal Writers' Project, where he researched black history and folk culture.
He was raised as a Baptist, and later became a member of the Bahá'í Faith during the early 1940s after marrying a Bahá'í, Erma Inez Morris. He is one of the best-known Bahá'í poets and his religion influenced much of his work.
After leaving the Federal Writers' Project in 1938, marrying Erma Morris in 1940, and publishing his first volume, Heart-Shape in the Dust (1940), Hayden enrolled at the University of Michigan in 1941 and won a Hopwood Award there.
In pursuit of a master's degree, Hayden studied under W. H. Auden, who directed Hayden's attention to issues of poetic form, technique, and artistic discipline, and influence may be seen in the "technical pith of Hayden's verse". After finishing his degree in 1942, then teaching several years at Michigan, Hayden went to Fisk University in 1946, where he remained for twenty-three years, returning to Michigan in 1969 to complete his teaching career.  He died in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1980 at the age 66.  from Wikipedia


  1. may my live be a sacrifice....

    pithy indeed!

  2. Robert Hayden so eloquently puts into words the feelings that well up inside as we retell and relive the Ridvan story. The beauty of that time and day is so elusive. Thank you for sharing this beautiful poem.