it seemed God had given them up
and for four centuries there was no word,
crushing weight of military occupations,
like a dowry for this nation
married once too often
with foreign gods; in the Judaean hills
Maccabeans chose out their Messiahs
and shook their swords at heaven for its silence.
this time God was gathering his breath
to speak his last tremendous word,
it was delivered
it was squeezed out from a single human body
only, painful way there is and laid out
helpless, derelict and in the heart of nowhere.
Sonnets 27-36 deal with God’s incarnation in Jesus
Four centuries The four hundred year period between the Testaments was noted for the absence of recognised prophetic writings.
Maccabeans Judas Maccabeus and his brothers led a series of fairly successful revolts against the Greek and later Roman occupying forces, and in this period the expectation of the Messiah as a political and military figure was at its highest.
last tremendous word The identification (here and in sonnets 28 and 29) of Christ as “the word” is made definitively in John 1.