Madeleine L’Engle Poetry ✍️

Madeleine L’Engle might have been most popular for her eponymous work in ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ as well as other popular books series like The Austins and Time Quintet. Still, the author also has a few notable poems under her belt.

Madeleine L'Engle

(1918-2007), American

A typical pattern with L’Engle’s poems is that they are deeply symbolic and mostly faith-based. Her poems are a source of inspiration and moral awakening for her many readers. This article will analyze poems by iconic author, Madeleine L’Engle

First Coming 

First Coming’ is one of Madeleine L’Engle’s poems found in her 2005 collection, ‘The Ordering of Love.’ Like most of the poems in this collection, ‘First Coming’ is a Christian poem and especially suited for the holiday season or the period of advent as it deploys the allegory of Jesus’ first coming to pass down an important message of being ready, always, and avoiding procrastination. 

The first stanza of the poem follows a quatrain where L’Engle appears to give her readers an early insight into the moral of her writing: readiness. Being a very Christian poem, the author talks about the timing of the first coming of Jesus Christ: how the ‘heavens were unsteady,’ nations were in chaos, and ‘prisoners cried out for release.’ 

Going further into the poem, L’Engle expresses how God is so loving and eager to come to man’s rescue, swiftly, and with love – amid at the point when not much seems to be going well. According to the doctrine of Christianity, among all other creatures, God created man in his image and likeness and then gave him dominion over his beautiful creation – with the liberty to independently tend them. 

But man went overboard and mismanaged what he’s been given – an act considered sinful by the creator, and thus brought upon a consequence of tribulation, chaos, and destruction. ‘First Coming’ is God’s saving grace and redemption for man, and that comes through Jesus Christ his son – in an hour of desperate need. 

In the final part of the poem, L’Engle admonishes that people should emulate such examples and be ever ready to do what needs to be done, whether the world is prepared for it or not. 

Into the Darkest Hour 

Out of Madeleine L’Engle’s Wintersong collection comes the poem ‘Into the Darkest Hour,’ which, much like the ‘First Coming,’ follows another powerful advent poem that reflects on the life of infant Jesus. 

However, what is more, noteworthy with this poem is its ability to also hammer on the important national socio-political and socio-cultural struggles of the American people at the time it was written. 

In the first stanza of the poem, L’Engle describes wartime and the consequent chaos, precariousness, and hopelessness of such times. However, towards the end of that stanza lies a glimpse of hope revealed by a star that a child is to be born. 

That child, or ‘prince of bliss’ – who comes ‘into the dark hour’ to meet us, is prophesied to be the messiah who is to restore peace and tranquility to the world. However, in the final parts of the poem, readers are reminded of how difficult it is for people to forget their struggles and smile through the pain and hardship in regard to the savior’s coming.

Ready for Silence

Ready for Silence’ is another poem by Madeleine L’Engle from her 2005 collection, ‘The Ordering of Love.’ As are most of her poems, this one reflects on the period surrounding the advent or the coming of Jesus Christ but also uses the virtue of silence as a metaphor for humility at one point, conquest, and other times, glory.

The first verse of the poem describes the conception, birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ in total humility, grace, and glory. The second verse, also stanza two, follows what looks like an appeal, from the narrator, to come to the rescue of humanity – which seems to be in imminent need of it. The final stanza unravels the speaker’s seemingly importunate questions seeking to know when and how the second coming will happen.

After Annunciation

Another poem for the advent by Madeleine L’Engle, published as part of her 1987 collection, ‘A Cry Like a Bell.’ ‘After Annunciation’ is a quatrain or a poem of four lines with the ABAB rhyme scheme, where L’Engle uses simple and concise expressions to capture the wisdom and depth of the plot of her poem. The poem centers on a blossoming love in a tough time of the year, humanity’s humility through Mary, and God’s unflinching grace – which is manifested by his sending of his son.

The Risk of Birth 

Certainly one of the most exciting poems of L’Engle for advent, ‘The Risk of Birth’ is another poem taken from the author’s 2005 collection, ‘The Ordering of Love.’ As is with nearly all her poems, this poem is deeply allegorical and faith-based and describes the human and cosmological turmoils that were in place around the time of the birth of Jesus. 

The Risk of Birth’ is a Rondeau-type poem chronicling the worse time for a child to be born: a time when Rome was a powerhouse, and there was no love lost between nations of the world.  

The poem represents a powerful reflection of Christian faith in Christ Jesus as the ultimate salvation for the compromised human race, as it describes the birth of Jesus – who the narrator calls love – as man’s saving grace and reason for the pacification of the whole world.


What kind of poems did Madeleine L’Engle write?

Madeleine L’Engle wrote mostly Christian or faith-based poems with moral and spiritual undertones. Her most important poetry comes under the subject of advent or poems for the holiday season. 

How many poems did L’Engle author during her career?

Before her death, Madeleine L’Engle wrote a number of poems which she published in her poem collections including ‘Wintersong’ and ‘The Ordering of Love,’ and that is aside from the tenths of books she had written

Are L’Engle’s poems any good?

Madeleine L’Engle was a woman with multiple literary talents, and aside from her novels – especially ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ – for which she was popular and won multiple awards, she is also considered a talented poet – and her poems were also regarded as decent, although they are mostly faith-based. 

Is L’Engle acclaimed for her poetry?

Most of L’Engle’s acclaim comes from her best work in A Wrinkle in Time.’ The author is considered an iconic all-around literary person, but it can’t be said that her poems were what brought about her acclaim in the industry. 

Victor Onuorah
About Victor Onuorah
Victor is as much a prolific writer as he is an avid reader. With a degree in Journalism, he goes around scouring literary storehouses and archives; picking up, dusting the dirt off, and leaving clean even the most crooked pieces of literature all with the skill of analysis.
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