Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
These cards are in touch with a thing I'll show you at Christmas . . .
Charles Williams, The Greater Trumps, p. 54
THE FIFTH SONNET moves in centrifugal confusion between two fixed points: the Annunciation in the opening line and the Nativity in the last two lines. There is an implicit time span of nine months, from March 25 to December 25; there is a suggestion of polar wastes and parched deserts; and there are familiar Biblical and literary characters masked by incongruous epithets. Between the descent of Gabriel and the prophetic utterance of the white bear, seasons, persons, places, and events swirl in a madly shaken kaleidoscope. Out of the centrifugal motion of his imagery Thomas manages, by an inexplicable torsion, to force his images into centripetal direction toward a central theme. The dynamics in this sonnet are a combination of a volcanic eruption and a polar maelstrom. Three events -- Gabriel's annunciation, a hazardous journey, and a nativity -- are described in imagery of playing cards, literature, the Bible, and the sea.