Out of Egypt have I called my son. Hosea 11: 1 and Matthew 2:15
I shall not decay, I shall not rot, I shall not putrefy . . . Chapter CLIV from The Book of the Dead
THE NINTH SONNET seems to be composed of fourteen lines of hieroglyphic verse to which even the Rosetta stone is no key. One would expect the Crucifixion to be followed by a sonnet centered on the descent from the Cross; yet not a single traditional episode in the Passion is offered. The first eight sonnets and the tenth form a structural unity of Biblical narrative, Scriptural references, and the motifs of Genesis, the Incarnation, and the Passion. The ninth sonnet, however, is strikingly incongruent and seemingly disruptive of unity. It is as if the long-vanished passion play of the life, death, and resurrection of Osiris were to appear on Corpus Christi Day between a pageant of the Crucifixion and a pageant of the Last Judgment.
Why should a Welshman writing an English poem about a Christian theme include a sonnet in which there are detailed references to ancient Egyptian funerary customs and eschatology? This is not the only instance of Thomas's use of imagery taken from Egyp-