Where, Then, Is the Sting?

Oh death! Where is thy sting?
Dread venom of lowest hell,
Brewed in the bitterness of hatred,
Where is thy sting,
Distilled from violence of rebellion,
Compounded of saddest separation?
This is death’s sting, and yet
Where, oh where, death, is thy sting?

Where does the sting incise,
Where pour out its poison,
Ghastly, grisly, doom-dealing, deadly?
In it the shame and pain of
Fruitless remorse, dull anguish,
Dry tongue cleaving, tears destroyed
In lethal cynicism, passion against God,
Rustlings of memories bringing horror,
And the incoming, ravaging darkness-
This is death’s sting.
Yet where, oh death, is thy sting?

How then the irrevocable loss
Of the holy, heavenly being-
Man brilliantly lit by God,
Pulsing in glory? How, where, is this loss?
Down in the mocking strata of death,
The leering, gaping grin of the grave,
The stench of corruption, glory-failure
And no-being in God. This is the sting.
Yet, oh death, where, where is thy sting?

The sting is in him. Look up
(All ye that pass by). Look and see.
Do not let the divine drama pass over you,
Be over you, be gone. Look up!
There, writhing with the sting. Oh yes,
Human enough to suffer and divine
Enough to bear. Look up and see,
All ye who pass by. See where death’s sting
Was and is no more.

If a man stay and look, he will see.
If he pass by, then in a moment
He will pass by love, and will never see.
He will miss the miracle
Hid in the grim gallows. He will bypass
Love reaching out with cool arms
To embrace the sin-fevered.
He will pass by, not knowing
Where the sting has gone.

Where is death’s sting?
In him:
Annulled and made void: nothing.
Its poison absorbed, destroyed.
Death tried to conquer. This it could not.
This sting in man is death, fiery,
Anguish and flame of hell,
But in him-after the suffering-
Exploded myth of destruction.
In him the fire of death
Blazed to expending, and expended.
Then death, where is your sting?

Ask not, ‘Where is the deathly sting?’
For it is destroyed, absorbed into nothingness
By love’s holy power. Now
It is only life, life flowing,
Life in quality replete, surging up
Out of the empty tomb. Christ’s grave,
Empty through grace, is the wide room
Of man’s new spirit. Man is in life.
Man is enthroned in the heavens,
Having entered into his glory
Through man’s suffering. Man is high.
Gone then is death’s sting.
Void in the victory-the ancient
Annulled victory of the grave.
Oh, death, where is thy sting?

Geoffrey Bingham, 1991

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