My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
Stabat Mater dolorosa
Juxta Crucem lacrimosa
Dum pendebat Filius.
Jacopone da Todi
THIS IS THE CLIMAX of the poem. The first seven sonnets move toward this mountain in a steady ascent. The eighth sonnet marks the religious and dramatic division in the sequence. The first seven sonnets, like the seven days in Genesis, mark the old dispensation; the last three sonnets, like the last three days of the Passion, mark the new dispensation with their themes of Crucifixion, burial, and Resurrection. It is here that Thomas achieves the fearful symmetry of Calvary: the Cross itself; Christ crucified between two thieves; the Son suspended between the Father in Heaven and the mother at the foot of the Cross; the nailed Mediator between Heaven and earth, mingling both substances in himself.
In its narrative content the eighth sonnet follows the Gospel accounts of the Passion closely. In mood and tone the sonnet suggests a Stabat Mater hymn or a medieval planctus. In its brutal imagery the sonnet recalls the instruments of the Passion; and in its baroque