The Complete Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Part 19 out of 31
And calling unto one another, saying:
We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced
We have mourned unto you, and ye have not wept!
This say I unto you, for John the Baptist
Came neither eating bread nor drinking wine
Ye say he hath a devil. The Son of Man
Eating and drinking cometh, and ye say:
Behold a gluttonous man, and a wine-bibber;
Behold a friend of publicans and sinners!
A GUEST aside to SIMON.
Who is that woman yonder, gliding in
So silently behind him?
It is Mary,
Who dwelleth in the Tower of Magdala.
See, how she kneels there weeping, and her tears
Fall on his feet; and her long, golden hair
Waves to and fro and wipes them dry again.
And now she kisses them, and from a box
Of alabaster is anointing them
With precious ointment, filling all the house
With its sweet odor!
Oh, this man, forsooth,
Were he indeed a Prophet, would have known
Who and what manner of woman this may be
That toucheth him! would know she is a sinner!
Simon, somewhat have I to say to thee.
Master, say on.
A certain creditor
Had once two debtors; and the one of them
Owed him five hundred pence; the other, fifty.
They having naught to pay withal, he frankly
Forgave them both. Now tell me which of them
Will love him most?
He, I suppose to whom
He most forgave.
Yea, thou hast rightly judged.
Seest thou this woman? When thine house I entered,
Thou gavest me no water for my feet,
But she hath washed them with her tears, and wiped them
With her own hair. Thou gavest me no kiss;
This woman hath not ceased, since I came in,
To kiss my feet. My head with oil didst thou
Anoint not; but this woman hath anointed
My feet with ointment. Hence I say to thee,
Her sins, which have been many, are forgiven,
For she loved much.
Oh, who, then, is this man
That pardoneth also sins without atonement?
Woman, thy faith hath saved thee! Go in peace!
THE SECOND PASSOVER.
BEFORE THE GATES OF MACHAERUS
Welcome, O wilderness, and welcome, night
And solitude, and ye swift-flying stars
That drift with golden sands the barren heavens,
Welcome once more! The Angels of the Wind
Hasten across the desert to receive me;
And sweeter than men's voices are to me
The voices of these solitudes; the sound
Of unseen rivulets, and the far-off cry
Of bitterns in the reeds of water-pools.
And lo! above me, like the Prophet's arrow
Shot from the eastern window, high in air
The clamorous cranes go singing through the night.
O ye mysterious pilgrims of the air,
Would I had wings that I might follow you!
I look forth from these mountains, and behold
The omnipotent and omnipresent night,
Mysterious as the future and the fate
That hangs o'er all men's lives! I see beneath me
The desert stretching to the Dead Sea shore,
And westward, faint and far away, the glimmer
Of torches on Mount Olivet, announcing
The rising of the Moon of Passover.
Like a great cross it seems, on which suspended,
With head bowed down in agony, I see
A human figure! Hide, O merciful heaven,
The awful apparition from my sight!
And thou, Machaerus, lifting high and black
Thy dreadful walls against the rising moon,
Haunted by demons and by apparitions,
Lilith, and Jezerhara, and Bedargon,
How grim thou showest in the uncertain light,
A palace and a prison, where King Herod
Feasts with Herodias, while the Baptist John
Fasts, and consumes his unavailing life!
And in thy court-yard grows the untithed rue,
Huge as the olives of Gethsemane,
And ancient as the terebinth of Hebron,
Coeval with the world. Would that its leaves
Medicinal could purge thee of the demons
That now possess thee, and the cunning fox
That burrows in thy walls, contriving mischief!
Music is heard from within.
Angels of God! Sandalphon, thou that weavest
The prayers of men into immortal garlands,
And thou, Metatron, who dost gather up
Their songs, and bear them to the gates of heaven,
Now gather up together in your hands
The prayers that fill this prison, and the songs
That echo from the ceiling of this palace,
And lay them side by side before God's feet!
He enters the castle.
Thou hast sent for me, O King, and I am here.
Who art thou?
Manahem, the Essenian.
I recognize thy features, but what mean
These torn and faded garments? On thy road
Have demons crowded thee, and rubbed against thee,
And given thee weary knees? A cup of wine!
The Essenians drink no wine.
What wilt thou, then?
Not even a cup of water?
Why hast thou sent for me?
Dost thou remember
One day when I, a schoolboy in the streets
Of the great city, met thee on my way
To school, and thou didst say to me: Hereafter
Thou shalt be king?
Yea, I remember it.
Thinking thou didst not know me, I replied:
I am of humble birth; whereat thou, smiling,
Didst smite me with thy hand, and saidst again:
Thou shalt be king; and let the friendly blows
That Manahem hath given thee on this day
Remind thee of the fickleness of fortune.
Yea, for I said to thee:
It shall be well with thee if thou love justice
And clemency towards thy fellow-men.
Hast thou done this, O King?
Go, ask my people.
And then, foreseeing all thy life, I added:
But these thou wilt forget; and at the end
Of life the Lord will punish thee.
When will that come? For this I sent to thee.
How long shall I still reign? Thou dost not answer!
Speak! shall I reign ten years?
Thou shalt reign twenty,
Nay, thirty years. I cannot name the end.
Thirty? I thank thee, good Essenian!
This is my birthday, and a happier one
Was never mine. We hold a banquet here.
See, yonder are Herodias and her daughter.
'T is said that devils sometimes take the shape
Of ministering angels, clothed with air.
That they may be inhabitants of earth,
And lead man to destruction. Such are these.
Knowest thou John the Baptist?
Yea, I know him;
Who knows him not?
Know, then, this John the Baptist
Said that it was not lawful I should marry
My brother Philip's wife, and John the Baptist
Is here in prison. In my father's time
Matthias Margaloth was put to death
For tearing the golden eagle from its station
Above the Temple Gate,--a slighter crime
Than John is guilty of. These things are warnings
To intermeddlers not to play with eagles,
Living or dead. I think the Essenians
Are wiser, or more wary, are they not?
The Essenians do not marry.
Thou hast given
My words a meaning foreign to my thought.
Let me go hence, O King!
Stay yet awhile,
And see the daughter of Herodias dance.
Cleopatra of Jerusalem, my mother,
In her best days, was not more beautiful.
Music. THE DAUGHTER OP HERODIAS dances.
Oh, what was Miriam dancing with her timbrel,
Compared to this one?
O thou Angel of Death,
Dancing at funerals among the women,
When men bear out the dead! The air is hot
And stifles me! Oh for a breath of air!
Bid me depart, O King!
Not yet. Come hither,
Salome, thou enchantress! Ask of me
Whate'er thou wilt; and even unto the half
Of all my kingdom, I will give it thee,
As the Lord liveth!
DAUGHTER OF HERODIAS, kneeling.
Give me here the head
Of John the Baptist on this silver charger!
Not that, dear child! I dare not; for the people
Regard John as a prophet.
DAUGHTER OF HERODIAS.
Thou hast sworn it.
For mine oath's sake, then. Send unto the prison;
Let him die quickly. Oh, accursed oath!
Bid me depart, O King!
Give me thy hand. I love the Essenians.
He's gone and hears me not! The guests are dumb,
Awaiting the pale face, the silent witness.
The lamps flare; and the curtains of the doorways
Wave to and fro as if a ghost were passing!
Strengthen my heart, red wine of Ascalon!
UNDER THE WALLS OF MACHAERUS
MANAHEM, rushing out.
Away from this Palace of sin!
The demons, the terrible powers
Of the air, that haunt its towers
And hide in its water-spouts,
Deafen me with the din
Of their laughter and their shouts
For the crimes that are done within!
Sink back into the earth,
Or vanish into the air,
Thou castle of despair!
Let it all be but a dream
Of the things of monstrous birth,
Of the things that only seem!
White Angel of the Moon,
Onafiel! be my guide
Out of this hateful place
Of sin and death, nor hide
In you black cloud too soon
Thy pale and tranquil face!
A trumpet is blown from the walls.
Hark! hark! It is the breath
Of the trump of doom and death,
From the battlements overhead
Like a burden of sorrow cast
On the midnight and the blast,
A wailing for the dead,
That the gusts drop and uplift!
O Herod, thy vengeance is swift!
O Herodias, thou hast been
The demon, the evil thing,
That in place of Esther the Queen,
In place of the lawful bride,
Hast lain at night by the side
Of Ahasuerus the king!
The trumpet again.
The Prophet of God is dead!
At a drunken monarch's call,
At a dancing-woman's beck,
They have severed that stubborn neck
And into the banquet-hall
Are bearing the ghastly head!
A body is thrown from the tower.
A torch of red
Lights the window with its glow;
And a white mass as of snow
Is hurled into the abyss
Of the black precipice,
That yawns for it below!
O hand of the Most High,
O hand of Adonai!
Bury it, hide it away
From the birds and beasts of prey,
And the eyes of the homicide,
More pitiless than they,
As thou didst bury of yore
The body of him that died
On the mountain of Peor!
Even now I behold a sign,
A threatening of wrath divine,
A watery, wandering star,
Through whose streaming hair, and the white
Unfolding garments of light,
That trail behind it afar,
The constellations shine!
And the whiteness and brightness appear
Like the Angel bearing the Seer
By the hair of his head, in the might
And rush of his vehement flight.
And I listen until I hear
From fathomless depths of the sky
The voice of his prophecy
Sounding louder and more near!
May the lightnings of heaven fall
On palace and prison wall,
And their desolation be
As the day of fear and affliction,
As the day of anguish and ire,
With the burning and fuel of fire,
In the Valley of the Sea!
NICODEMUS AT NIGHT
The streets are silent. The dark houses seem
Like sepulchres, in which the sleepers lie
Wrapped in their shrouds, and for the moment dead.
The lamps are all extinguished; only one
Burns steadily, and from the door its light
Lies like a shining gate across the street.
He waits for me. Ah, should this be at last
The long-expected Christ! I see him there
Sitting alone, deep-buried in his thought,
As if the weight of all the world were resting
Upon him, and thus bowed him down. O Rabbi,
We know thou art a Teacher come from God,
For no man can perform the miracles
Thou dost perform, except the Lord be with him.
Thou art a Prophet, sent here to proclaim
The Kingdom of the Lord. Behold in me
A Ruler of the Jews, who long have waited
The coming of that kingdom. Tell me of it.
Verily, verily I say unto thee,
Except a man be born again, he cannot
Behold the Kingdom of God!
Be born again?
How can a man be born when he is old?
Say, can he enter for a second time
Into his mother's womb, and so be born?
Verily I say unto thee, except
A man be born of water and the spirit,
He cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.
For that which of the flesh is born, is flesh;
And that which of the spirit is born, is spirit.
We Israelites from the Primeval Man
Adam Ahelion derive our bodies;
Our souls are breathings of the Holy Ghost.
No more than this we know, or need to know.
Then marvel not, that I said unto thee
Ye must be born again.
Of birth and death we cannot comprehend.
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and we hear
The sound thereof, but know not whence it cometh,
Nor whither it goeth. So is every one
Born of the spirit!
How can these things be?
He seems to speak of some vague realm of shadows,
Some unsubstantial kingdom of the air!
It is not this the Jews are waiting for,
Nor can this be the Christ, the Son of David,
Who shall deliver us!
Art thou a master
Of Israel, and knowest not these things?
We speak that we do know, and testify
That we have seen, and ye will not receive
Our witness. If I tell you earthly things,
And ye believe not, how shall ye believe,
If I should tell you of things heavenly?
And no man hath ascended up to heaven,
But he alone that first came down from heaven,
Even the Son of Man which is in heaven!
This is a dreamer of dreams; a visionary,
Whose brain is overtasked, until he deems
The unseen world to be a thing substantial,
And this we live in, an unreal vision!
And yet his presence fascinates and fills me
With wonder, and I feel myself exalted
Into a higher region, and become
Myself in part a dreamer of his dreams,
A seer of his visions!
And as Moses
Uplifted the serpent in the wilderness,
So must the Son of Man be lifted up;
That whosoever shall believe in Him
Shall perish not, but have eternal life.
He that believes in Him is not condemned;
He that believes not, is condemned already.
He speaketh like a Prophet of the Lord!
This is the condemnation; that the light
Is come into the world, and men loved darkness
Rather than light, because their deeds are evil!
Of me he speaketh! He reproveth me,
Because I come by night to question him!
For every one that doeth evil deeds
Hateth the light, nor cometh to the light
Lest he should be reproved.
Alas, how truly
He readeth what is passing in my heart!
But he that doeth truth comes to the light,
So that his deeds may be made manifest,
That they are wrought in God.
Be not impatient, Chilion; it is pleasant
To sit here in the shadow of the walls
Under the palms, and hear the hum of bees,
And rumor of voices passing to and fro,
And drowsy bells of caravans on their way
To Sidon or Damascus. This is still
The City of Palms, and yet the walls thou seest
Are not the old walls, not the walls where Rahab
Hid the two spies, and let them down by cords
Out of the window, when the gates were shut,
And it was dark. Those walls were overthrown
When Joshua's army shouted, and the priests
Blew with their seven trumpets.
When was that?
O my sweet rose of Jericho, I know not
Hundreds of years ago. And over there
Beyond the river, the great prophet Elijah
Was taken by a whirlwind up to heaven
In chariot of fire, with fiery horses.
That is the plain of Moab; and beyond it
Rise the blue summits of Mount Abarim,
Nebo and Pisgah and Peor, where Moses
Died, whom the Lord knew face to face? and whom
He buried in a valley, and no man
Knows of his sepulchre unto this day.
Would thou couldst see these places, as I see them.
I have not seen a glimmer of the light
Since thou wast born. I never saw thy face,
And yet I seem to see it; and one day
Perhaps shall see it; for there is a Prophet
In Galilee, the Messiah, the Son of David,
Who heals the blind, if I could only find him.
I hear the sound of many feet approaching,
And voices, like the murmur of a crowd!
What seest thou?
A young man clad in white
Is coming through the gateway, and a crowd
Of people follow.
Can it be the Prophet!
O neighbors, tell me who it is that passes?
ONE OF THE CROWD.
Jesus of Nazareth.
O Son of David!
Have mercy on me!
MANY OP THE CROWD.
Peace. Blind Bartimeus!
Do not disturb the Master.
BARTIMEUS, crying more vehemently.
Son of David,
Have mercy on me!
ONE OF THE CROWD.
See, the Master stops.
Be of good comfort; rise, He calleth thee!
BARTIMEUS, casting away his cloak.
Chilion! good neighbors! lead me on.
What wilt thou
That I should do to thee?
Good Lord! my sight--
That I receive my sight!
Receive thy sight!
Thy faith hath made thee whole!
He sees again!
CHRISTUS passes on, The crowd gathers round BARTIMEUS.
I see again; but sight bewilders me!
Like a remembered dream, familiar things
Come back to me. I see the tender sky
Above me, see the trees, the city walls,
And the old gateway, through whose echoing arch
I groped so many years; and you, my neighbors;
But know you by your friendly voices only.
How beautiful the world is! and how wide!
Oh, I am miles away, if I but look!
Where art thou, Chilion?
Father, I am here.
Oh let me gaze upon thy face, dear child!
For I have only seen thee with my hands!
How beautiful thou art! I should have known thee;
Thou hast her eyes whom we shall see hereafter!
O God of Abraham! Elion! Adonai!
Who art thyself a Father, pardon me
If for a moment I have thee postponed
To the affections and the thoughts of earth,
Thee, and the adoration that I owe thee,
When by thy power alone these darkened eyes
Have been unsealed again to see thy light!
A SAMARITAN WOMAN.
The sun is hot; and the dry east-wind blowing
Fills all the air with dust. The birds are silent;
Even the little fieldfares in the corn
No longer twitter; only the grasshoppers
Sing their incessant song of sun and summer.
I wonder who those strangers were I met
Going into the city? Galileans
They seemed to me in speaking, when they asked
The short way to the market-place. Perhaps
They are fishermen from the lake; or travellers,
Looking to find the inn. And here is some one
Sitting beside the well; another stranger;
A Galilean also by his looks.
What can so many Jews be doing here
Together in Samaria? Are they going
Up to Jerusalem to the Passover?
Our Passover is better here at Sychem,
For here is Ebal; here is Gerizim,
The mountain where our father Abraham
Went up to offer Isaac; here the tomb
Of Joseph,--for they brought his bones Egypt
And buried them in this land, and it is holy.
Give me to drink.
How can it be that thou,
Being a Jew, askest to drink of me
Which am a woman of Samaria?
You Jews despise us; have no dealings with us;
Make us a byword; call us in derision
The silly folk of Sychar. Sir, how is it
Thou askest drink of me?
If thou hadst known
The gift of God, and who it is that sayeth
Give me to drink, thou wouldst have asked of Him;
He would have given thee the living water.
Sir, thou hast naught to draw with, and the well
Is deep! Whence hast thou living water?
Say, art thou greater than our father Jacob,
Which gave this well to us, and drank thereof
Himself, and all his children and his cattle?
Ah, whosoever drinketh of this water
Shall thirst again; but whosoever drinketh
The water I shall give him shall not thirst
Forevermore, for it shall be within him
A well of living water, springing up
Into life everlasting.
I must go to and fro, in heat and cold,
And I am weary. Give me of this water,
That I may thirst not, nor come here to draw.
Go call thy husband, woman, and come hither.
I have no husband, Sir.
Thou hast well said
I have no husband. Thou hast had five husbands;
And he whom now thou hast is not thy husband.
Surely thou art a Prophet, for thou readest
The hidden things of life! Our fathers worshipped
Upon this mountain Gerizim; and ye say
The only place in which men ought to worship
Is at Jerusalem.
Believe me, woman,
The hour is coming, when ye neither shall
Upon this mount, nor at Jerusalem,
Worship the Father; for the hour is coming,
And is now come, when the true worshippers
Shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth!
The Father seeketh such to worship Him.
God is a spirit; and they that worship Him
Must worship Him in spirit and in truth.
Master, I know that the Messiah cometh,
Which is called Christ; and he will tell us all things.
I that speak unto thee am He!
THE DISCIPLES, returning.
The Master sitting by the well, and talking
With a Samaritan woman! With a woman
Of Sychar, the silly people, always boasting
Of their Mount Ebal, and Mount Gerizim,
Their Everlasting Mountain, which they think
Higher and holier than our Mount Moriah!
Why, once upon the Feast of the New Moon,
When our great Sanhedrim of Jerusalem
Had all its watch-fires kindled on the hills
To warn the distant villages, these people
Lighted up others to mislead the Jews,
And make a mockery of their festival!
See, she has left the Master; and is running
Back to the city!
Oh, come see a man
Who hath told me all things that I ever did!
Say, is not this the Christ?
Lo, Master, here
Is food, that we have brought thee from the city.
We pray thee eat it.
I have food to eat
Ye know not of.
THE DISCIPLES, to each other.
Hath any man been here,
And brought Him aught to eat, while we were gone?
The food I speak of is to do the will
Of Him that sent me, and to finish his work.
Do ye not say, Lo! there are yet four months
And cometh, harvest? I say unto you,
Lift up your eyes, and look upon the fields,
For they are white already unto harvest!
THE COASTS OF CAESAREA PHILIPPI
CHRISTUS, going up the mountain.
Who do the people say I am?
That thou art John the Baptist; some, Elias;
And others Jeremiah.
Or that one
Of the old Prophets is risen again.
But who say ye I am?
Thou art the Christ?
Thou art the Son of God!
Blessed art thou,
Simon Barjona! Flesh and blood hath not
Revealed it unto thee, but even my Father,
Which is in Heaven. And I say unto thee
That thou art Peter; and upon this rock
I build my Church, and all the gates of Hell
Shall not prevail against it. But take heed
Ye tell no man that I am the Christ.
For I must go up to Jerusalem,
And suffer many things, and be rejected
Of the Chief Priests, and of the Scribes and Elders,
And must be crucified, and the third day
Shall rise again!
Be it far from thee, Lord!
This shall not be!
Get thee behind me, Satan!
Thou savorest not the things that be of God,
But those that be of men! If any will
Come after me, let him deny himself,
And daily take his cross, and follow me.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it,
And whosoever will lose his life shall find it.
For wherein shall a man be profited
If he shall gain the whole world, and shall lose
Himself or be a castaway?
JAMES, after a long pause.
The Master lead us up into this mountain?
He goeth up to pray.
See where He standeth
Above us on the summit of the hill!
His face shines as the sun! and all his raiment
Exceeding white as snow, so as no fuller
On earth can white them! He is not alone;
There are two with him there; two men of eld,
Their white beards blowing on the mountain air,
Are talking with him.
I am sore afraid!
Who and whence are they?
Moses and Elias!
O Master! it is good for us to be here!
If thou wilt, let us make three tabernacles;
For thee one, and for Moses and Elias!
Behold a bright cloud sailing in the sun!
It overshadows us. A golden mist
Now hides them from us, and envelops us
And all the mountains in a luminous shadow!
I see no more. The nearest rocks are hidden.
VOICE from the cloud.
Lo! this is my beloved Son! Hear Him!
It is the voice of God. He speaketh to us,
As from the burning bush He spake to Moses!
The cloud-wreaths roll away. The veil is lifted;
We see again. Behold! He is alone.
It was a vision that our eyes beheld,
And it hath vanished into the unseen.
CHRISTUS, coming down from the mountain.
I charge ye, tell the vision unto no one,
Till the Son of Man is risen from the dead!
Again He speaks of it! What can it mean,
This rising from the dead?
Why say the Scribe!
Elias must first come?
He cometh first,
Restoring all things. But I say to you,
That this Elias is already come.
They knew him not, but have done unto him
Whate'er they listed, as is written of him.
It is of John the Baptist He is speaking.
As we descend, see, at the mountain's foot,
A crowd of people; coming, going, thronging
Round the disciples, that we left behind us,
Seeming impatient, that we stay so long.
It is some blind man, or some paralytic
That waits the Master's coming to be healed.
I see a boy, who struggles and demeans him
As if an unclean spirit tormented him!
A CERTAIN MAN, running forward.
Lord! I beseech thee, look upon my son.
He is mine only child; a lunatic,
And sorely vexed; for oftentimes he falleth
Into the fire and oft into the water.
Wherever the dumb spirit taketh him
He teareth him. He gnasheth with his teeth,
And pines away. I spake to thy disciples
That they should cast him out, and they could not.
O faithless generation and perverse!
How long shall I be with you, and suffer you?
Bring thy son hither.
How the unclean spirit
Seizes the boy, and tortures him with pain!
He falleth to the ground and wallows, foaming!
He cannot live.
How long is it ago
Since this came unto him?
Even of a child.
Oh, have compassion on us, Lord, and help us,
If thou canst help us.
If thou canst believe.
For unto him that verily believeth,
All things are possible.
Lord, I believe!
Help thou mine unbelief!
Dumb and deaf spirit,
Come out of him, I charge thee, and no more
Enter thou into him!
The boy utters a loud cry of pain, and then lies still.
He lieth there. No life is left in him.
His eyes are like a blind man's, that see not.
The boy is dead!
Behold! the Master stoops,
And takes him by the hand, and lifts him up.
He is not dead.
But one word from those lips,
But one touch of that hand, and he is healed!
Ah, why could we not do it?
My poor child!
Now thou art mine again. The unclean spirit
Shall never more torment thee! Look at me!
Speak unto me! Say that thou knowest me!
DISCIPLES to CHRISTUS departing.
Good Master, tell us, for what reason was it
We could not cast him out?
Because of your unbelief!
THE YOUNG RULER
Two men went up into the temple to pray.
The one was a self-righteous Pharisee,
The other a Publican. And the Pharisee
Stood and prayed thus within himself: O God,
I thank thee I am not as other men,
Extortioners, unjust, adulterers,
Or even as this Publican. I fast
Twice in the week, and also I give tithes
Of all that I possess! The Publican,
Standing afar off, would not lift so much
Even as his eyes to heaven, but smote his breast,
Saying: God be merciful to me a sinner!
I tell you that this man went to his house
More justified than the other. Every one
That doth exalt himself shall be abased,
And he that humbleth himself shall be exalted!
CHILDREN, among themselves.
Let us go nearer! He is telling stories!
Let us go listen to them.
AN OLD JEW.
What are ye doing here? Why do ye crowd us?
It was such little vagabonds as you
That followed Elisha, mucking him and crying:
Go up, thou bald-head! But the bears--the bears
Came out of the wood, and tare them!
Speak not thus!
We brought them here, that He might lay his hands
On them, and bless them.
Suffer little children
To come unto me, and forbid them not;
Of such is the kingdom of heaven; and their angels
Look always on my Father's face.
Takes them in his arms and blesses them.
A YOUNG RULER, running.
What good thing shall I do, that I may have
Why callest thou me good?
There is none good but one, and that is God.
If thou wilt enter into life eternal,
Keep the commandments.
Which of them?
Thou shalt not
Commit adultery; thou shalt not kill;
Thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not bear false witness;
Honor thy father and thy mother; and love
Thy neighbor as thyself.
From my youth up
All these things have I kept. What lack I yet?
With what divine compassion in his eyes
The Master looks upon this eager youth,
As if he loved him!
Wouldst thou perfect be,
Sell all thou hast, and give it to the poor,
And come, take up thy cross, and follow me,
And thou shalt have thy treasure in the heavens.
Behold, how sorrowful he turns away!
Children! how hard it is for them that trust
In riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
'T is easier for a camel to go through
A needle's eye, than for the rich to enter
The kingdom of God!
Ah, who then can be saved?
With men this is indeed impossible,
But unto God all things are possible!
Behold, we have left all, and followed thee.
What shall we have therefor?
MARTHA busy about household affairs.
MARY sitting at the feet of CHRISTUS.
She sitteth idly at the Master's feet.
And troubles not herself with household cares.
'T is the old story. When a guest arrives
She gives up all to be with him; while I
Must be the drudge, make ready the guest-chamber,
Prepare the food, set everything in order,
And see that naught is wanting in the house.
She shows her love by words, and I by works.
O Master! when thou comest, it is always
A Sabbath in the house. I cannot work;
I must sit at thy feet; must see thee, hear thee!
I have a feeble, wayward, doubting heart,
Incapable of endurance or great thoughts,
Striving for something that it cannot reach,
Baffled and disappointed, wounded, hungry;
And only when I hear thee am I happy,
And only when I see thee am at peace!
Stronger than I, and wiser, and far better
In every manner, is my sister Martha.
Thou seest how well she orders everything
To make thee welcome; how she comes and goes,
Careful and cumbered ever with much serving,
While I but welcome thee with foolish words!
Whene'er thou speakest to me, I am happy;
When thou art silent, I am satisfied.
Thy presence is enough. I ask no more.
Only to be with thee, only to see thee,
Sufficeth me. My heart is then at rest.
I wonder I am worthy of so much.
Lord, dost thou care not that my sister Mary
Hath left me thus to wait on thee alone?
I pray thee, bid her help me.
Careful and troubled about many things
Art thou, and yet one thing alone is needful!
Thy sister Mary hath chosen that good part,
Which never shall be taken away from her!
Who is this beggar blinking in the sun?
Is it not he who used to sit and beg
By the Gate Beautiful?
It is the same.
It is not he, but like him, for that beggar
Was blind from birth. It cannot be the same.
Yea, I am he.
How have thine eyes been opened?
A man that is called Jesus made a clay
And put it on mine eyes, and said to me:
Go to Siloam's Pool and wash thyself.
I went and washed, and I received my sight.
Where is he?
I know not.
What is this crowd
Gathered about a beggar? What has happened?
Here is a man who hath been blind from birth,
And now he sees. He says a man called Jesus
Hath healed him.
As God liveth, the Nazarene!
How was this done?
Rabboni, he put clay
Upon mine eyes; I washed, and now I see.
When did he this?
The Sabbath day. This man is not of God,
Because he keepeth not the Sabbath day!
How can a man that is a sinner do
What dost thou say of him
That hath restored thy sight?
He is a Prophet.
This is a wonderful story, but not true,
A beggar's fiction. He was not born blind,
And never has been blind!
Here are his parents.
Is this your son?
We know this is our son.
Was he born blind?
He was born blind.
Then how doth he now see?
THE PARENTS, aside.
What answer shall we make? If we confess
It was the Christ, we shall be driven forth
Out of the Synagogue!
We know, Rabboni,
This is our son, and that he was born blind;
But by what means he seeth, we know not,
Or who his eyes hath opened, we know not.
He is of age; ask him; we cannot say;
He shall speak for himself.
Give God the praise!
We know the man that healed thee is a sinner!
Whether He be a sinner, I know not;
One thing I know; that whereas I was blind,
I now do see.
How opened he thine eyes?
What did he do?
I have already told you.
Ye did not hear: why would ye hear again?
Will ye be his disciples?
God of Moses!
Are we demoniacs, are we halt or blind,
Or palsy-stricken, or lepers, or the like,
That we should join the Synagogue of Satan,
And follow jugglers? Thou art his disciple,
But we are disciples of Moses; and we know
That God spake unto Moses; but this fellow,
We know not whence he is!
Why, herein is
A marvellous thing! Ye know not whence he is,
Yet he hath opened mine eyes! We know that God
Heareth not sinners; but if any man
Doeth God's will, and is his worshipper,
Him doth he hear. Oh, since the world began
It was not heard that any man hath opened
The eyes of one that was born blind. If He
Were not of God, surely he could do nothing!
Thou, who wast altogether born in sins
And in iniquities, dost thou teach us?
Away with thee out of the holy places,
Thou reprobate, thou beggar, thou blasphemer!
THE BEGGAR is cast out.
SIMON MAGUS AND HELEN OF TYRE
On the house-top at Endor. Night. A lighted lantern on a table.
Swift are the blessed Immortals to the mortal
That perseveres! So doth it stand recorded
In the divine Chaldaean Oracles
Of Zoroaster, once Ezekiel's slave,
Who in his native East betook himself
To lonely meditation, and the writing
On the dried skins of oxen the Twelve Books
Of the Avesta and the Oracles!
Therefore I persevere; and I have brought thee
From the great city of Tyre, where men deride
The things they comprehend not, to this plain
Of Esdraelon, in the Hebrew tongue
Called Armageddon, and this town of Endor,
Where men believe; where all the air is full
Of marvellous traditions, and the Enchantress
That summoned up the ghost of Samuel
Is still remembered. Thou hast seen the land;
Is it not fair to look on?
It is fair,
Yet not so fair as Tyre.
Is not Mount Tabor
As beautiful as Carmel by the Sea?
It is too silent and too solitary;
I miss the tumult of the street; the sounds
Of traffic, and the going to and fro
Of people in gay attire, with cloaks of purple,
And gold and silver jewelry!
Of Abriman, the spirit of the dark,
The Evil Spirit!
I regret the gossip
Of friends and neighbors at the open door
On summer nights.
An idle waste of time.
The singing and the dancing, the delight
Of music and of motion. Woe is me,
To give up all these pleasures, and to lead
The life we lead!
Thou canst not raise thyself
Up to the level of my higher thought,
And though possessing thee, I still remain
Apart from thee, and with thee, am alone
In my high dreams.
Happier was I in Tyre.
Oh, I remember how the gallant ships
Came sailing in, with ivory, gold, and silver,
And apes and peacocks; and the singing sailors,
And the gay captains with their silken dresses,
Smelling of aloes, myrrh, and cinnamon!
But the dishonor, Helen! Let the ships
Of Tarshish howl for that!
And what dishonor?
Remember Rahab, and how she became
The ancestress of the great Psalmist David;
And wherefore should not I, Helen of Tyre,
Attain like honor?
Thou art Helen of Tyre,
And hast been Helen of Troy, and hast been Rahab,
The Queen of Sheha, and Semiramis,
And Sara of seven husbands, and Jezebel,
And other women of the like allurements;
And now thou art Minerva, the first Aeon,
The Mother of Angels!
And the concubine
Of Simon the Magician! Is it honor
For one who has been all these noble dames,
To tramp about the dirty villages
And cities of Samaria with a juggler?
A charmer of serpents?
He who knows himself
Knows all things in himself. I have charmed thee,
Thou beautiful asp: yet am I no magician,
I am the Power of God, and the Beauty of God!
I am the Paraclete, the Comforter!
Illusions! Thou deceiver, self-deceived!
Thou dost usurp the titles of another;
Thou art not what thou sayest.
Am I not?
Then feel my power.
Would I had ne'er left Tyre!
He looks at her, and she sinks into a deep sleep.
Go, see it in thy dreams, fair unbeliever!
And leave me unto mine, if they be dreams,
That take such shapes before me, that I see them;
These effable and ineffable impressions
Of the mysterious world, that come to me
From the elements of Fire and Earth and Water,
And the all-nourishing Ether! It is written,
Look not on Nature, for her name is fatal!
Yet there are Principles, that make apparent
The images of unapparent things,
And the impression of vague characters
And visions most divine appear in ether.
So speak the Oracles; then wherefore fatal?
I take this orange-bough, with its five leaves,
Each equidistant on the upright stem;
And I project them on a plane below,
In the circumference of a circle drawn
About a centre where the stem is planted,
And each still equidistant from the other,
As if a thread of gossamer were drawn
Down from each leaf, and fastened with a pin.
Now if from these five points a line be traced
To each alternate point, we shall obtain
The Pentagram, or Solomon's Pentangle,
A charm against all witchcraft, and a sign,
Which on the banner of Antiochus
Drove back the fierce barbarians of the North,
Demons esteemed, and gave the Syrian King
The sacred name of Soter, or of Savior.
Thus Nature works mysteriously with man;
And from the Eternal One, as from a centre,
All things proceed, in fire, air, earth, and water,
And all are subject to one law, which, broken
Even in a single point, is broken in all;
Demons rush in, and chaos comes again.
By this will I compel the stubborn spirits,
That guard the treasures, hid in caverns deep
On Gerizim, by Uzzi the High-Priest,
The ark and holy vessels, to reveal
Their secret unto me, and to restore
These precious things to the Samaritans.
A mist is rising from the plain below me,
And as I look, the vapors shape themselves
Into strange figures, as if unawares
My lips had breathed the Tetragrammaton,
And from their graves, o'er all the battlefields
Of Armageddon, the long-buried captains
Had started, with their thousands, and ten thousands,
And rushed together to renew their wars,
Powerless, and weaponless, and without a sound!
Wake, Helen, from thy sleep! The air grows cold;
Let us go down.
Oh, would I were at home!
Thou sayest that I usurp another's titles.
In youth I saw the Wise Men of the East,
Magalath and Pangalath and Saracen,
Who followed the bright star, but home returned
For fear of Herod by another way.
O shining worlds above me! in what deep
Recesses of your realms of mystery
Lies hidden now that star? and where are they
That brought the gifts of frankincense and myrrh?
The Nazarene still liveth.
We have heard
His name in many towns, but have not seen Him.
He flits before us; tarries not; is gone
When we approach, like something unsubstantial,
Made of the air, and fading into air.
He is at Nazareth, He is at Nain,
Or at the Lovely Village on the Lake,
Or sailing on its waters.
So say those
Who do not wish to find Him.
Can this be
The King of Israel, whom the Wise Men worshipped?
Or does He fear to meet me? It would seem so.
We should soon learn which of us twain usurps
The titles of the other, as thou sayest.
They go down.
THE THIRD PASSOVER
THE ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM
THE SYRO-PHOENICIAN WOMAN and her DAUGHTER
on the house-top at Jerusalem.
THE DAUGHTER, singing.
Blind Bartimeus at the gates
Of Jericho in darkness waits;
He hears the crowd;--he hears a breath
Say, It is Christ of Nazareth!
And calls, in tones of agony,
The thronging multitudes increase:
Blind Bartimeus, hold thy peace!
But still, above the noisy crowd,
The beggar's cry is shrill and loud;
Until they say, he calleth thee!
Then saith the Christ, as silent stands
The crowd, What wilt thou at my hands?
And he replies, Oh, give me light!
Rabbi, restore the blind man's sight!
And Jesus answers, [Greek text]!
Ye that have eyes, yet cannot see,
In darkness and in misery,
Recall those mighty voices three,
Thy faith hath saved thee! Ah, how true that is!
For I had faith; and when the Master came
Into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, fleeing
From those who sought to slay him, I went forth
And cried unto Him, saying: Have mercy on me,
O Lord, thou Son of David! for my daughter
Is grievously tormented with a devil.
But he passed on, and answered not a word.
And his disciples said, beseeching Him:
Send her away! She crieth after us!
And then the Master answered them and said:
I am not sent but unto the lost sheep
Of the House of Israel! Then I worshipped Him,
Saying: Lord help me! And He answered me,
It is not meet to take the children's bread
And cast it unto dogs! Truth, Lord, I said;
And yet the dogs may eat the crumbs which fall
From off their master's table; and he turned,
And answered me; and said to me: O woman,
Great is thy faith; then be it unto thee
Even as thou wilt. And from that very hour
Thou wast made whole, my darling! my delight!
There came upon my dark and troubled mind
A calm, as when the tumult of the City
Suddenly ceases, and I lie and hear
The silver trumpets of the Temple blowing
Their welcome to the Sabbath. Still I wonder,
That one who was so far away from me
And could not see me, by his thought alone
Had power to heal me. Oh that I could see Him!
Perhaps thou wilt; for I have brought thee here
To keep the holy Passover, and lay
Thine offering of thanksgiving on the altar.
Thou mayst both see and hear Him. Hark!
VOICES afar off.
A crowd comes pouring through the city gate!
O mother, look!
VOICES in the street.
Hosanna to the Son
A great multitude of people
Fills all the street; and riding on an ass
Comes one of noble aspect, like a king!
The people spread their garments in the way,
And scatter branches of the palm-trees!
Is he that cometh in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!
Who is this?
Jesus of Nazareth!
Mother, it is he!
He hath called Lazarus of Bethany
Out of his grave, and raised him from the dead!
Hosanna in the highest!
That nothing we prevail. Behold, the world
Is all gone after him!
What power is in that care-worn countenance!
What sweetness, what compassion! I no longer
Wonder that he hath healed me!
Peace in heaven,
And glory in the highest!
Rebuke thy followers!
Should they hold their peace
The very stones beneath us would cry out!
All hath passed by me like a dream of wonder!
But I have seen Him, and have heard his voice,
And I am satisfied! I ask no more!
GAMALIEL THE SCRIBE.
When Rabban Simeon--upon whom be peace!--
Taught in these Schools, he boasted that his pen
Had written no word that he could call his own,
But wholly and always had been consecrated
To the transcribing of the Law and Prophets.
He used to say, and never tired of saying,
The world itself was built upon the Law.
And ancient Hillel said, that whosoever
Gains a good name gains something for himself,
But he who gains a knowledge of the Law
Gains everlasting life. And they spake truly.
Great is the Written Law; but greater still
The Unwritten, the Traditions of the Elders,
The lovely words of Levites, spoken first
To Moses on the Mount, and handed down
From mouth to mouth, in one unbroken sound
And sequence of divine authority,
The voice of God resounding through the ages.
The Written Law is water; the Unwritten
Is precious wine; the Written Law is salt,
The Unwritten costly spice; the Written Law
Is but the body; the Unwritten, the soul
That quickens it and makes it breathe and live.
I can remember, many years ago,
A little bright-eyed school-boy, a mere stripling,
Son of a Galilean carpenter,
From Nazareth, I think, who came one day
And sat here in the Temple with the Scribes,
Hearing us speak, and asking many questions,
And we were all astonished at his quickness.
And when his mother came, and said: Behold
Thy father and I have sought thee, sorrowing;
He looked as one astonished, and made answer,
How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not
That I must be about my Father's business?
Often since then I see him here among us,
Or dream I see him, with his upraised face
Intent and eager, and I often wonder
Unto what manner of manhood he hath grown!
Perhaps a poor mechanic like his father,
Lost in his little Galilean village
And toiling at his craft, to die unknown
And he no more remembered among men.
CHRISTUS, in the outer court.
The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat;
All, therefore, whatsoever they command you,
Observe and do; but follow not their works
They say and do not. They bind heavy burdens
And very grievous to be borne, and lay them
Upon men's shoulders, but they move them not
With so much as a finger!
GAMALIEL, looking forth.
Who is this
Exhorting in the outer courts so loudly?
Their works they do for to be seen of men.
They make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge
The borders of their garments, and they love
The uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats
In Synagogues, and greetings in the markets,
And to be called of all men Rabbi, Rabbi!
It is that loud and turbulent Galilean,
That came here at the Feast of Dedication,
And stirred the people up to break the Law!
Woe unto you, ye Scribes and Pharisees,
Ye hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom
Of heaven, and neither go ye in yourselves
Nor suffer them that are entering to go in!
How eagerly the people throng and listen,
As if his ribald words were words of wisdom!
Woe unto you, ye Scribes and Pharisees,
Ye hypocrites! for ye devour the houses
Of widows, and for pretence ye make long prayers;
Therefore shall ye receive the more damnation.
This brawler is no Jew,--he is a vile
Samaritan, and hath an unclean spirit!
Woe unto you, ye Scribes and Pharisees,
Ye hypocrites! ye compass sea and land
To make one proselyte, and when he is made
Ye make him twofold more the child of hell
Than you yourselves are!
O my father's father!
Hillel of blessed memory, hear and judge!
Woe unto you, ye Scribes and Pharisees,
Ye hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint,
Of anise, and of cumin, and omit
The weightier matters of the law of God,
Judgment and faith and mercy; and all these
Ye ought to have done, nor leave undone the others!
O Rabban Simeon! how must thy bones
Stir in their grave to hear such blasphemies!
Woe unto you, ye Scribes, and Pharisees,
Ye hypocrites! for ye make clean and sweet
The outside of the cup and of the platter,
But they within are full of all excess!
Patience of God! canst thou endure so long?
Or art thou deaf, or gone upon a journey?
Woe unto you, ye Scribes and Pharisees,
Ye hypocrites! for ye are very like
To whited sepulchres, which indeed appear
Beautiful outwardly, but are within
Filled full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness!
Am I awake? Is this Jerusalem?
And are these Jews that throng and stare and listen?
Woe unto you, ye Scribes and Pharisees,
Ye hypocrites! because ye build the tombs
Of prophets, and adorn the sepulchres
Of righteous men, and say: if we had lived
When lived our fathers, we would not have been
Partakers with them in the blood of Prophets.
So ye be witnesses unto yourselves,
That ye are children of them that killed the Prophets!
Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
I send unto you Prophets and Wise Men,
And Scribes, and some ye crucify, and some
Scourge in your Synagogues, and persecute
From city to city; that on you may come
The righteous blood that hath been shed on earth,
From the blood of righteous Abel to the blood
Of Zacharias, son of Barachias,
Ye slew between the Temple and the altar!
Oh, had I here my subtle dialectician,
My little Saul of Tarsus, the tent-maker,
Whose wit is sharper than his needle's point,
He would delight to foil this noisy wrangler!
Jerusalem! Jerusalem! O thou
That killest the Prophets, and that stonest them
Which are sent unto thee, how often would I
Have gathered together thy children, as a hen
Gathereth her chickens underneath her wing,
And ye would not! Behold, your house is left
Unto you desolate!
This is a Prophet!
This is the Christ that was to come!
Think ye, shall Christ come out of Galilee?
LORD, IS IT I?
One of you shall betray me.
Is it I?
Lord, is it I?
One of the Twelve it is
That dippeth with me in this dish his hand;
He shall betray me. Lo, the Son of Man
Goeth indeed as it is written of Him;
But woe shall be unto that man by whom
He is betrayed! Good were it for that man
If he had ne'er been born!
Lord, is it I?
Ay, thou hast said. And that thou doest, do quickly.
JUDAS ISCARIOT, going out.
Ah, woe is me!
All ye shall be offended
Because of me this night; for it is written:
Awake, O sword, against my shepherd! Smite
The shepherd, saith the Lord of hosts, and scattered
Shall be the sheep!--But after I am risen
I go before you into Galilee.
O Master! though all men shall be offended
Because of thee, yet will not I be!
Behold how Satan hath desired to have you,
That he may sift you as one sifteth wheat!
Whither I go thou canst not follow me--
Not now; but thou shalt follow me hereafter.
Wherefore can I not follow thee? I am ready
To go with thee to prison and to death.
Verily I say unto thee, this night,
Ere the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice!
Though I should die, yet will I not deny thee.
When first I sent you forth without a purse,
Or scrip, or shoes, did ye lack anything?
But he that hath a purse,
Now let him take it, and likewise his scrip;
And he that hath no sword, let him go sell
His clothes and buy one. That which hath been written
Must be accomplished now: He hath poured out
His soul even unto death; he hath been numbered
With the transgressors, and himself hath borne
The sin of many, and made intercession
For the transgressors. And here have an end
The things concerning me.
Behold, O Lord,
Behold here are two swords!
It is enough.
THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE
My spirit is exceeding sorrowful
Even unto death! Tarry ye here and watch.
He goes apart.
Under this ancient olive-tree, that spreads
Its broad centennial branches like a tent,
Let us lie down and rest.
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