PROPHET. By thine arrow's light Thou goest onward through the night, And by the clear Sheen of thy glittering spear! When will our journey end?
ANGEL. Lo, it is ended! Yon silver gleam Is the Euphrates' stream. Let us descend Into the city splendid, Into the City of Gold!
PROPHET. Behold! As if the stars had fallen from their places Into the firmament below, The streets, the gardens, and the vacant spaces With light are all aglow; And hark! As we draw near, What sound is it I hear Ascending through the dark?
ANGEL. The tumultuous noise of the nations, Their rejoicings and lamentations, The pleadings of their prayer, The groans of their despair, The cry of their imprecations, Their wrath, their love, their hate!
PROPHET. Surely the world doth wait The coming of its Redeemer!
ANGEL. Awake from thy sleep, O dreamer? The hour is near, though late; Awake! write the vision sublime, The vision, that is for a time, Though it tarry, wait; it is nigh; In the end it will speak and not lie.
THE DIVINE TRAGEDY
THE FIRST PASSOVER
JOHN THE BAPTIST. Repent! repent! repent! For the kingdom of God is at hand, And all the land Full of the knowledge of the Lord shall be As the waters cover the sea, And encircle the continent!
Repent! repent! repent! For lo, the hour appointed, The hour so long foretold By the Prophets of old, Of the coming of the Anointed, The Messiah, the Paraclete, The Desire of the Nations, is nigh! He shall not strive nor cry, Nor his voice be heard in the street; Nor the bruised reed shall He break, Nor quench the smoking flax; And many of them that sleep In the dust of earth shall awake, On that great and terrible day, And the wicked shall wail and weep, And be blown like a smoke away, And be melted away like wax. Repent! repent! repent!
O Priest, and Pharisee, Who hath warned you to flee From the wrath that is to be? From the coming anguish and ire? The axe is laid at the root Of the trees, and every tree That bringeth not forth good fruit Is hewn down and cast into the fire!
Ye Scribes, why come ye hither? In the hour that is uncertain, In the day of anguish and trouble, He that stretcheth the heavens as a curtain And spreadeth them out as a tent, Shall blow upon you, and ye shall wither, And the whirlwind shall take you away as stubble! Repent! repent! repent!
PRIEST. Who art thou, O man of prayer! In raiment of camel's hair, Begirt with leathern thong, That here in the wilderness, With a cry as of one in distress, Preachest unto this throng? Art thou the Christ?
JOHN. Priest of Jerusalem, In meekness and humbleness, I deny not, I confess I am not the Christ!
PRIEST. What shall we say unto them That sent us here? Reveal Thy name, and naught conceal! Art thou Elias?
PRIEST. Art thou that Prophet, then, Of lamentation and woe, Who, as a symbol and sign Of impending wrath divine Upon unbelieving men, Shattered the vessel of clay In the Valley of Slaughter?
JOHN. Nay. I am not he thou namest!
PRIEST. Who art thou, and what is the word That here thou proclaimest?
JOHN. I am the voice of one Crying in the wilderness alone: Prepare ye the way of the Lord; Make his paths straight In the land that is desolate!
PRIEST. If thou be not the Christ, Nor yet Elias, nor he That, in sign of the things to be, Shattered the vessel of clay In the Valley of Slaughter, Then declare unto us, and say By what authority now Baptizest thou?
JOHN. I indeed baptize you with water Unto repentance; but He, That cometh after me, Is mightier than I and higher; The latchet of whose shoes I an not worthy to unloose; He shall baptize you with fire, And with the Holy Ghost! Whose fan is in his hand; He will purge to the uttermost His floor, and garner his wheat, But will burn the chaff in the brand And fire of unquenchable heat! Repent! repent! repent!
LUCIFER. Not in the lightning's flash, nor in the thunder, Not in the tempest, nor the cloudy storm, Will I array my form; But part invisible these boughs asunder, And move and murmur as the wind upheaves And whispers in the leaves.
Not as a terror and a desolation, Not in my natural shape, inspiring fear And dread, will I appear; But in soft tones of sweetness and persuasion, A sound as of the fall of mountain streams, Or voices heard in dreams.
He sitteth there in silence, worn and wasted With famine, and uplifts his hollow eyes To the unpitying skies; For forty days and nights he hath not tasted Of food or drink, his parted lips are pale, Surely his strength must fail.
Wherefore dost thou in penitential fasting Waste and consume the beauty of thy youth. Ah, if thou be in truth The Son of the Unnamed, the Everlasting, Command these stones beneath thy feet to be Changed into bread for thee!
CHRISTUS. 'T is written! Man shall not live by bread alone, But by each word that from God's mouth proceedeth!
LUCIFER. Too weak, alas! too weak is the temptation For one whose soul to nobler things aspires Than sensual desires! Ah, could I, by some sudden aberration, Lend and delude to suicidal death This Christ of Nazareth!
Unto the holy Temple on Moriah, With its resplendent domes, and manifold Bright pinnacles of gold, Where they await thy coming, O Messiah! Lo, I have brought thee! Let thy glory here Be manifest and clear.
Reveal thyself by royal act and gesture Descending with the bright triumphant host Of all the hithermost Archangels, and about thee as a vesture The shining clouds, and all thy splendors show Unto the world below!
Cast thyself down, it is the hour appointed; And God hath given his angels charge and care To keep thee and upbear Upon their hands his only Son, the Anointed, Lest he should dash his foot against a stone And die, and be unknown.
CHRISTUS. 'T is written: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God!
LUCIFER. I cannot thus delude him to perdition! But one temptation still remains untried, The trial of his pride, The thirst of power, the fever of ambition! Surely by these a humble peasant's son At last may be undone!
Above the yawning chasms and deep abysses, Across the headlong torrents, I have brought Thy footsteps, swift as thought; And from the highest of these precipices, The Kingdoms of the world thine eyes behold. Like a great map unrolled.
From far-off Lebanon, with cedars crested, To where the waters of the Asphalt Lake On its white pebbles break, And the vast desert, silent, sand-invested, These kingdoms all are mine, and thine shall be, If thou wilt worship me!
CHRISTUS. Get thee behind me, Satan! thou shalt worship The Lord thy God; Him only shalt thou serve!
ANGELS MINISTRANT. The sun goes down; the evening shadows lengthen, The fever and the struggle of the day Abate and pass away; Thine Angels Miniatrant, we come to strengthen And comfort thee, and crown thee with the palm, The silence and the calm.
THE MARRIAGE IN CANA
THE MUSICIANS. Rise up, my love, my fair one, Rise up, and come away, For lo! the winter is past, The rain is over and gone, The flowers appear on the earth, The time of the singing of birds is come, And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.
THE BRIDEGROOM. Sweetly the minstrels sing the Song of Songs! My heart runs forward with it, and I say: Oh set me as a seal upon thine heart, And set me as a seal upon thine arm; For love is strong as life, and strong as death, And cruel as the grave is jealousy!
THE MUSICIANS. I sleep, but my heart awaketh; 'T is the voice of my beloved Who knocketh, saying: Open to me, My sister, my love, my dove, For my head is filled with dew, My locks with the drops of the night!
THE BRIDE. Ah yes, I sleep, and yet my heart awaketh. It is the voice of my beloved who knocks.
THE BRIDEGROOM. O beautiful as Rebecca at the fountain, O beautiful as Ruth among the sheaves! O fairest among women! O undefiled! Thou art all fair, my love, there's no spot in thee!
THE MUSICIANS. My beloved is white and ruddy, The chiefest among ten thousand His locks are black as a raven, His eyes are the eyes of doves, Of doves by the rivers of water, His lips are like unto lilies, Dropping sweet-smelling myrrh.
ARCHITRICLINUS. Who is that youth with the dark azure eyes, And hair, in color like unto the wine, Parted upon his forehead, and behind Falling in flowing locks?
PARANYMPHUS. The Nazarene Who preacheth to the poor in field and village The coming of God's Kingdom.
ARCHITRICLINUS. How serene His aspect is! manly yet womanly.
PARANYMPHUS. Most beautiful among the sons of men! Oft known to weep, but never known to laugh.
ARCHITRICLINUS. And tell me, she with eyes of olive tint, And skin as fair as wheat, and pale brown hair, The woman at his side?
PARANYMPHUS. His mother, Mary.
ARCHITRICLINUS. And the tall figure standing close behind them, Clad all in white, with lace and beard like ashes, As if he were Elias, the White Witness, Come from his cave on Carmel to foretell The end of all things?
PARANYMPHUS. That is Manahem The Essenian, he who dwells among the palms Near the Dead Sea.
ARCHITRICLINUS. He who foretold to Herod He should one day be King?
PARANYMPHUS. The same.
ARCHITRICLINUS. Then why Doth he come here to sadden with his presence Our marriage feast, belonging to a sect Haters of women, and that taste not wine?
THE MUSICIANS. My undefiled is but one, The only one of her mother, The choice of her that bare her; The daughters saw her and blessed her; The queens and the concubines praised her; Saying, Lo! who is this That looketh forth as the morning?
MANAHEM aside. The Ruler of the Feast is gazing at me, As if he asked, why is that old man here Among the revellers? And thou, the Anointed! Why art thou here? I see as in a vision A figure clothed in purple, crowned with thorns; I see a cross uplifted in the darkness, And hear a cry of agony, that shall echo Forever and forever through the world!
ARCHITRICLINUS. Give us more wine. These goblets are all empty.
MARY to CHRISTUS. They have no wine!
CHRISTUS. O woman, what have I To do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come.
MARY to the servants. Whatever he shall say to you, that do.
CHRISTUS. Fill up these pots with water.
THE MUSICIANS. Come, my beloved, Let us go forth into the field, Let us lodge in the villages; Let us get up early to the vineyards, Let us see if the vine flourish, Whether the tender grape appear, And the pomegranates bud forth.
CHRISTUS. Draw out now And bear unto the Ruler of the Feast.
MANAHEM aside. O thou, brought up among the Essenians, Nurtured in abstinence, taste not the wine! It is the poison of dragons from the vineyards Of Sodom, and the taste of death is in it!
ARCHITRICLINUS to the BRIDEGROOM. All men set forth good wine at the beginning, And when men have well drunk, that which is worse; But thou hast kept the good wine until now.
The things that have been and shall be no more, The things that are, and that hereafter shall he, The things that might have been, and yet were not, The fading twilight of great joys departed, The daybreak of great truths as yet unrisen, The intuition and the expectation Of something, which, when come, is not the same, But only like its forecast in men's dreams, The longing, the delay, and the delight, Sweeter for the delay; youth, hope, love, death, And disappointment which is also death, All these make up the sum of human life; A dream within a dream, a wind at night Howling across the desert in despair, Seeking for something lost it cannot find. Fate or foreseeing, or whatever name Men call it, matters not; what is to be Hath been fore-written in the thought divine From the beginning. None can hide from it, But it will find him out; nor run from it, But it o'ertaketh him! The Lord hath said it.
THE BRIDEGROOM to the BRIDE, on the balcony. When Abraham went with Sarah into Egypt, The land was all illumined with her beauty; But thou dost make the very night itself Brighter than day! Behold, in glad procession, Crowding the threshold of the sky above us, The stars come forth to meet thee with their lamps; And the soft winds, the ambassadors of flowers, From neighboring gardens and from fields unseen, Come laden with odors unto thee, my Queen!
THE MUSICIANS. Awake, O north-wind, And come, thou wind of the South. Blow, blow upon my garden, That the spices thereof may flow out.
IN THE CORNFIELDS
PHILIP. Onward through leagues of sun-illumined corn, As if through parted seas, the pathway runs, And crowned with sunshine as the Prince of Peace Walks the beloved Master, leading us, As Moses led our fathers in old times Out of the land of bondage! We have found Him of whom Moses and the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Joseph.
NATHANAEL. Can any good come out of Nazareth? Can this be the Messiah?
PHILIP. Come and see.
NATHANAEL. The summer sun grows hot: I am anhungered. How cheerily the Sabbath-breaking quail Pipes in the corn, and bids us to his Feast Of Wheat Sheaves! How the bearded, ripening ears Toss in the roofless temple of the air; As if the unseen hand of some High-Priest Waved them before Mount Tabor as an altar! It were no harm, if we should pluck and eat.
PHILIP. How wonderful it is to walk abroad With the Good Master! Since the miracle He wrought at Cana, at the marriage feast, His fame hath gone abroad through all the land, And when we come to Nazareth, thou shalt see How his own people will receive their Prophet, And hail him as Messiah! See, he turns And looks at thee.
CHRISTUS. Behold an Israelite In whom there is no guile.
NATHANAEL. Whence knowest thou me?
CHRISTUS. Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast Under the fig-tree, I beheld thee.
NATHANAEL. Rabbi! Thou art the Son of God, thou art the King Of Israel!
CHRISTUS. Because I said I saw thee Under the fig-tree, before Philip called thee, Believest thou? Thou shalt see greater things. Hereafter thou shalt see the heavens unclosed, The angels of God ascending and descending Upon the Son of Man!
PHAIRISEES, passing. Hail, Rabbi!
PHARISEES. Behold how thy disciples do a thing Which is not lawful on the Sabbath-day, And thou forbiddest them not!
CHRISTUS. Have ye not read What David did when he anhungered was, And all they that were with him? How he entered Into the house of God, and ate the shew-bread, Which was not lawful, saving for the priests? Have ye not read, how on the Sabbath-days The priests profane the Sabbath in the Temple, And yet are blameless? But I say to you, One in this place is greater than the Temple! And had ye known the meaning of the words, I will have mercy and not sacrifice, The guiltless ye would not condemn. The Sabbath Was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.
Passes on with the disciples.
PHARISEES. This is, alas! some poor demoniac Wandering about the fields, and uttering His unintelligible blasphemies Among the common people, who receive As prophecies the words they comprehend not! Deluded folk! The incomprehensible Alone excites their wonder. There is none So visionary, or so void of sense, But he will find a crowd to follow him!
CHRISTUS, reading in the Synagogue. The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me. He hath anointed me to preach good tidings Unto the poor; to heal the broken-hearted; To comfort those that mourn, and to throw open The prison doors of captives, and proclaim The Year Acceptable of the Lord, our God!
He closes the book and sits down.
A PHARISEE. Who is this youth? He hath taken the Teacher's seat! Will he instruct the Elders?
A PRIEST. Fifty years Have I been Priest here in the Synagogue, And never have I seen so young a man Sit in the Teacher's seat!
CHRISTUS. Behold, to-day This scripture is fulfilled. One is appointed And hath been sent to them that mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, and the oil Of joy for mourning! They shall build again The old waste-places; and again raise up The former desolations, and repair The cities that are wasted! As a bridegroom Decketh himself with ornaments; as a bride Adorneth herself with jewels, so the Lord Hath clothed me with the robe of righteousness!
A PRIEST. He speaks the Prophet's words; but with an air As if himself had been foreshadowed in them!
CHRISTUS. For Zion's sake I will not hold my peace, And for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest Until its righteousness be as a brightness, And its salvation as a lamp that burneth! Thou shalt be called no longer the Forsaken, Nor any more thy land the Desolate. The Lord hath sworn, by his right hand hath sworn, And by his arm of strength: I will no more Give to thine enemies thy corn as meat; The sons of strangers shall not drink thy wine. Go through, go through the gates! Prepare a way Unto the people! Gather out the stones! Lift up a standard for the people!
A PRIEST. Ah! These are seditious words!
CHRISTUS. And they shall call them The holy people; the redeemed of God! And thou, Jerusalem, shalt be called Sought out, A city not forsaken!
A PHARISEE. Is not this The carpenter Joseph's son? Is not his mother Called Mary? and his brethren and his sisters Are they not with us? Doth he make himself To be a Prophet?
CHRISTUS. No man is a Prophet In his own country, and among his kin. In his own house no Prophet is accepted. I say to you, in the land of Israel Were many widows in Elijah's day, When for three years and more the heavens were shut, And a great famine was throughout the land; But unto no one was Elijah sent Save to Sarepta, to a city of Sidon, And to a woman there that was a widow. And many lepers were then in the land Of Israel, in the time of Eliseus The Prophet, and yet none of them was cleansed, Save Naaman the Syrian!
A PRIEST. Say no more! Thou comest here into our Synagogue And speakest to the Elders and the Priests, As if the very mantle of Elijah Had fallen upon thee! Are thou not ashamed?
A PHARISEE. We want no Prophets here! Let him be driven From Synagogue and city! Let him go And prophesy to the Samaritans!
AN ELDER. The world is changed. We Elders are as nothing! We are but yesterdays, that have no part Or portion in to-day! Dry leaves that rustle, That make a little sound, and then are dust!
A PHARISEE. A carpenter's apprentice! a mechanic, Whom we have seen at work here in the town Day after day; a stripling without learning, Shall he pretend to unfold the Word of God To men grown old in study of the Law?
CHRISTUS is thrust out.
THE SEA OF GALILEE.
PETER and ANDREW mending their nets.
PETER. Never was such a marvellous draught of fishes Heard of in Galilee! The market-places Both of Bethsaida and Capernaum Are full of them! Yet we had toiled all night And taken nothing, when the Master said: Launch out into the deep, and cast your nets; And doing this, we caught such multitudes, Our nets like spiders' webs were snapped asunder, And with the draught we filled two ships so full That they began to sink. Then I knelt down Amazed, and said: O Lord, depart from me, I am a sinful man. And he made answer: Simon, fear not; henceforth thou shalt catch men! What was the meaning of those words?
ANDREW. I know not. But here is Philip, come from Nazareth. He hath been with the Master. Tell us, Philip, What tidings dost thou bring?
PHILIP. Most wonderful! As we drew near to Nain, out of the gate Upon a bier was carried the dead body Of a young man, his mother's only son, And she a widow, who with lamentation Bewailed her loss, and the much people with her; And when the Master saw her he was filled With pity; and he said to her: Weep not And came and touched the bier, and they that bare it Stood still; and then he said: Young man, arise! And he that had been dead sat up, and soon Began to speak; and he delivered him Unto his mother. And there came a fear On all the people, and they glorified The Lord, and said, rejoicing: A great Prophet Is risen up among us! and the Lord Hath visited his people!
PETER. A great Prophet? Ay, greater than a Prophet: greater even Than John the Baptist!
PHILIP. Yet the Nazarenes Rejected him.
PETER. The Nazarenes are dogs! As natural brute beasts, they growl at things They do not understand; and they shall perish, Utterly perish in their own corruption. The Nazarenes are dogs!
PHILIP. They drave him forth Out of their Synagogue, out of their city, And would have cast him down a precipice, But, passing through the midst of them, he vanished Out of their hands.
PETER. Wells are they without water, Clouds carried with a tempest, unto whom The mist of darkness is reserved forever.
PHILIP. Behold, he cometh. There is one man with him I am amazed to see!
ANDREW. What man is that?
PHILIP. Judas Iscariot; he that cometh last, Girt with a leathern apron. No one knoweth His history; but the rumor of him is He had an unclean spirit in his youth. It hath not left him yet.
CHRISTUS, passing. Come unto me, All ye that labor and are heavy laden, And I will give you rest! Come unto me, And take my yoke upon you and learn of me, For I am meek, and I am lowly in heart, And ye shall all find rest unto your souls!
PHILIP. Oh, there is something in that voice that reaches The innermost recesses of my spirit! I feel that it might say unto the blind: Receive your sight! and straightway they would see! I feel that it might say unto the dead, Arise! and they would hear it and obey! Behold, he beckons to us!
CHRISTUS to PETER and ANDREW. Follow me!
PETER. Master, I will leave all and follow thee.
THE DEMONIAC OF GADARA
A GADARENE. He hath escaped, hath plucked his chains asunder, And broken his fetters; always night and day Is in the mountains here, and in the tombs, Crying aloud, and cutting himself with stones, Exceeding fierce, so that no man can tame him!
THE DEMONIAC from above, unseen. O Aschmedai! O Aschmedai, have pity!
A GADARENE. Listen! It is his voice! Go warn the people Just landing from the lake!
THE DEMONIAC. O Aschmedai! Thou angel of the bottomless pit, have pity! It was enough to hurl King Solomon, On whom be peace! two hundred leagues away Into the country, and to make him scullion In the kitchen of the King of Maschkemen! Why dost thou hurl me here among these rocks, And cut me with these stones?
A GADARENE. He raves and mutters He knows not what.
THE DEMONIAC, appearing from a tomb among the rocks. The wild cock Tarnegal Singeth to me, and bids me to the banquet, Where all the Jews shall come; for they have slain Behemoth the great ox, who daily cropped A thousand hills for food, and at a draught Drank up the river Jordan, and have slain The huge Leviathan, and stretched his skin Upon the high walls of Jerusalem, And made them shine from one end of the world Unto the other; and the fowl Barjuchne, Whose outspread wings eclipse the sun, and make Midnight at noon o'er all the continents! And we shall drink the wine of Paradise From Adam's cellars.
A GADARENE. O thou unclean spirit!
THE DEMONIAC, hurling down a stone. This is the wonderful Barjuchne's egg, That fell out of her nest, and broke to pieces And swept away three hundred cedar-trees, And threescore villages!—Rabbi Eliezer, How thou didst sin there in that seaport town When thou hadst carried safe thy chest of silver Over the seven rivers for her sake! I too have sinned beyond the reach of pardon. Ye hills and mountains, pray for mercy on me! Ye stars and planets, pray for mercy on me! Ye sun and moon, oh pray for mercy on me!
CHRISTUS and his disciples pass.
A GADARENE. There is a man here of Decapolis, Who hath an unclean spirit; so that none Can pass this way. He lives among the tombs Up there upon the cliffs, and hurls down stones On those who pass beneath.
CHRISTUS. Come out of him, Thou unclean spirit!
THE DEMONIAC. What have I to do With thee, thou Son of God? Do not torment us.
CHRISTUS. What is thy name?
THE DEMONIAC. Legion; for we are many. Cain, the first murderer; and the King Belshazzar, And Evil Merodach of Babylon, And Admatha, the death-cloud, prince of Persia And Aschmedai the angel of the pit, And many other devils. We are Legion. Send us not forth beyond Decapolis; Command us not to go into the deep! There is a herd of swine here in the pastures, Let us go into them.
CHRISTUS. Come out of him, Thou unclean spirit!
A GADARENE. See how stupefied, How motionless he stands! He cries no more; He seems bewildered and in silence stares As one who, walking in his sleep, awakes And knows not where he is, and looks about him, And at his nakedness, and is ashamed.
THE DEMONIAC. Why am I here alone among the tombs? What have they done to me, that I am naked? Ah, woe is me!
CHRISTUS. Go home unto thy friends And tell them how great things the Lord hath done For thee, and how He had compassion on thee!
A SWINEHERD, running. The herds! the herd! O most unlucky day! They were all feeding quiet in the sun, When suddenly they started, and grew savage As the wild boars of Tabor, and together Rushed down a precipice into the sea! They are all drowned!
PETER. Thus righteously are punished The apostate Jews, that eat the flesh of swine, And broth of such abominable things!
GREEKS OF GADARA. We sacrifice a sow unto Demeter At the beginning of harvest and another To Dionysus at the vintage-time. Therefore we prize our herds of swine, and count them Not as unclean, but as things consecrate To the immortal gods. O great magician, Depart out of our coasts; let us alone, We are afraid of thee.
PETER. Let us depart; For they that sanctify and purify Themselves in gardens, eating flesh of swine. And the abomination, and the mouse, Shall be consumed together, saith the Lord!
JAIRUS at the feet of CHRISTUS. O Master! I entreat thee! I implore thee! My daughter lieth at the point of death; I pray thee come and lay thy hands upon her, And she shall live!
CHRISTUS. Who was it touched my garments?
SIMON PETER. Thou seest the multitude that throng and press thee, And sayest thou: Who touched me? 'T was not I.
CHRISTUS. Some one hath touched my garments; I perceive That virtue is gone out of me.
A WOMAN. O Master! Forgive me! For I said within myself, If I so much as touch his garment's hem, I shall be whole.
CHRISTUS. Be of good comfort, daughter! Thy faith hath made thee whole. Depart in peace.
A MESSENGER from the house. Why troublest thou the Master? Hearest thou not The flute players, and the voices of the women Singing their lamentation? She is dead!
THE MINSTRELS AND MOURNERS. We have girded ourselves with sackcloth! We have covered our heads with ashes! For our young men die, and our maidens Swoon in the streets of the city; And into their mother's bosom They pour out their souls like water!
CHRISTUS, going in. Give place. Why make ye this ado, and weep? She is not dead, but sleepeth.
THE MOTHER, from within. Cruel Death! To take away front me this tender blossom! To take away my dove, my lamb, my darling!
THE MINSTRELS AND MOURNERS. He hath led me and brought into darkness, Like the dead of old in dark places! He hath bent his bow, and hath set me Apart as a mark for his arrow! He hath covered himself with a cloud, That our prayer should not pass through and reach him!
THE CROWD. He stands beside her bed! He takes her hand! Listen, he speaks to her!
CHRISTUS, within. Maiden, arise!
THE CROWD. See, she obeys his voice! She stirs! She lives! Her mother holds her folded in her arms! O miracle of miracles! O marvel!
THE TOWER OF MAGDALA
MARY MAGDALENE. Companionless, unsatisfied, forlorn, I sit here in this lonely tower, and look Upon the lake below me, and the hills That swoon with heat, and see as in a vision All my past life unroll itself before me. The princes and the merchants come to me, Merchants of Tyre and Princes of Damascus. And pass, and disappear, and are no more; But leave behind their merchandise and jewels, Their perfumes, and their gold, and their disgust. I loathe them, and the very memory of them Is unto me as thought of food to one Cloyed with the luscious figs of Dalmanutha! What if hereafter, in the long hereafter Of endless joy or pain, or joy in pain, It were my punishment to be with them Grown hideous and decrepit in their sins, And hear them say: Thou that hast brought us here, Be unto us as thou hast been of old! I look upon this raiment that I wear, These silks, and these embroideries, and they seem Only as cerements wrapped about my limbs! I look upon these rings thick set with pearls, And emerald and amethyst and jasper, And they are burning coals upon my flesh! This serpent on my wrist becomes alive! Away, thou viper! and away, ye garlands, Whose odors bring the swift remembrance back Of the unhallowed revels in these chambers! But yesterday,—and yet it seems to me Something remote, like a pathetic song Sung long ago by minstrels in the street,— But yesterday, as from this tower I gazed, Over the olive and the walnut trees Upon the lake and the white ships, and wondered Whither and whence they steered, and who was in them, A fisher's boat drew near the landing-place Under the oleanders, and the people Came up from it, and passed beneath the tower, Close under me. In front of them, as leader, Walked one of royal aspect, clothed in white, Who lifted up his eyes, and looked at me, And all at once the air seemed filled and living With a mysterious power, that streamed from him, And overflowed me with an atmosphere Of light and love. As one entranced I stood, And when I woke again, lo! he was gone; So that I said: Perhaps it is a dream. But from that very hour the seven demons That had their habitation in this body Which men call beautiful, departed from me!
This morning, when the first gleam of the dawn Made Lebanon a glory in the air, And all below was darkness, I beheld An angel, or a spirit glorified, With wind-tossed garments walking on the lake. The face I could not see, but I distinguished The attitude and gesture, and I knew 'T was he that healed me. And the gusty wind Brought to mine ears a voice, which seemed to say: Be of good cheer! 'T is I! Be not afraid! And from the darkness, scarcely heard, the answer: If it be thou, bid me come unto thee Upon the water! And the voice said: Come! And then I heard a cry of fear: Lord, save me! As of a drowning man. And then the voice: Why didst thou doubt, O thou of little faith! At this all vanished, and the wind was hushed, And the great sun came up above the hills, And the swift-flying vapors hid themselves In caverns among the rocks! Oh, I must find him And follow him, and be with him forever!
Thou box of alabaster, in whose walls The souls of flowers lie pent, the precious balm And spikenard of Arabian farms, the spirits Of aromatic herbs, ethereal natures Nursed by the sun and dew, not all unworthy To bathe his consecrated feet, whose step Makes every threshold holy that he crosses; Let us go forth upon our pilgrimage, Thou and I only! Let us search for him Until we find him, and pour out our souls Before his feet, till all that's left of us Shall be the broken caskets that once held us!
THE HOUSE OF SIMON THE PHARISEE
A GUEST at table. Are ye deceived? Have any of the Rulers Believed on him? or do they know indeed This man to be the very Christ? Howbeit We know whence this man is, but when the Christ Shall come, none knoweth whence he is.
CHRISTUS. Whereunto shall I liken, then, the men Of this generation? and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the markets, 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?
SIMON. It is Mary, Who dwelleth in the Tower of Magdala.
THE GUEST. 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!
SIMON, aside, 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!
CHRISTUS. Simon, somewhat have I to say to thee.
SIMON. Master, say on.
CHRISTUS. 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?
SIMON. He, I suppose to whom He most forgave.
CHRISTUS. 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.
THE GUESTS. Oh, who, then, is this man That pardoneth also sins without atonement?
CHRISTUS. Woman, thy faith hath saved thee! Go in peace!
THE SECOND PASSOVER.
BEFORE THE GATES OF MACHAERUS
MANAHEM. 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.
MANAHEM. Thou hast sent for me, O King, and I am here.
HEROD. Who art thou?
MANAHEM. Manahem, the Essenian.
HEROD. 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!
MANAHEM. The Essenians drink no wine.
HEROD. What wilt thou, then?
HEROD. Not even a cup of water?
MANAHEM. Nothing. Why hast thou sent for me?
HEROD. 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?
MANAHEM. Yea, I remember it.
HEROD. 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.
MANAHEM. What more?
HEROD. No more.
MANAHEM. 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?
HEROD. Go, ask my people.
MANAHEM. And then, foreseeing all thy life, I added: But these thou wilt forget; and at the end Of life the Lord will punish thee.
HEROD. The end! 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?
MANAHEM. Thou shalt reign twenty, Nay, thirty years. I cannot name the end.
HEROD. 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.
MANAHEM, aside. '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.
HEROD. Knowest thou John the Baptist?
MANAHEM. Yea, I know him; Who knows him not?
HEROD. 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?
MANAHEM. The Essenians do not marry.
HEROD. Thou hast given My words a meaning foreign to my thought.
MANAHEM. Let me go hence, O King!
HEROD. 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.
HEROD. Oh, what was Miriam dancing with her timbrel, Compared to this one?
MANAHEM, aside. 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!
HEROD. 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!
HEROD. Not that, dear child! I dare not; for the people Regard John as a prophet.
DAUGHTER OF HERODIAS. Thou hast sworn it.
HEROD. For mine oath's sake, then. Send unto the prison; Let him die quickly. Oh, accursed oath!
MANAHEM. Bid me depart, O King!
HEROD. Good Manahem, 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!
Malediction! malediction! 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
NICODEMUS. 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.
CHRISTUS. Verily, verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot Behold the Kingdom of God!
NICODEMUS. 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?
CHRISTUS. 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.
NICODEMUS. 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.
CHRISTUS. Then marvel not, that I said unto thee Ye must be born again.
NICODEMUS. The mystery Of birth and death we cannot comprehend.
CHRISTUS. 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!
NICODEMUS, aside. 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!
CHRISTUS. 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!
NICODEMUS, aside. 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!
CHRISTUS. 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.
NICODEMUS, aside. He speaketh like a Prophet of the Lord!
CHRISTUS. This is the condemnation; that the light Is come into the world, and men loved darkness Rather than light, because their deeds are evil!
NICODEMUS, aside. Of me he speaketh! He reproveth me, Because I come by night to question him!
CHRISTUS. For every one that doeth evil deeds Hateth the light, nor cometh to the light Lest he should be reproved.
NICODEMUS, aside. Alas, how truly He readeth what is passing in my heart!
CHRISTUS. But he that doeth truth comes to the light, So that his deeds may be made manifest, That they are wrought in God.
NICODEMUS. Alas! alas!
BARTIMEUS. 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.
CHILION. When was that?
BARTIMEUS. 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.
CHILION. Would thou couldst see these places, as I see them.
BARTIMEUS. 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?
CHILION. A young man clad in white Is coming through the gateway, and a crowd Of people follow.
BARTIMEUS. Can it be the Prophet! O neighbors, tell me who it is that passes?
ONE OF THE CROWD. Jesus of Nazareth.
BARTIMEUS, crying. 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.
CHRISTUS. What wilt thou That I should do to thee?
BARTIMEUS. Good Lord! my sight— That I receive my sight!
CHRISTUS. Receive thy sight! Thy faith hath made thee whole!
THE CROWD. He sees again!
CHRISTUS passes on, The crowd gathers round BARTIMEUS.
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?
CHILION. Father, I am here.
BARTIMEUS. 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.
CHRISTUS. Give me to drink.
SAMARITAN WOMAN. 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?
CHRISTUS. 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.
SAMARITAN WOMAN. 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?
CHRISTUS. 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.
SAMARITAN WOMAN. Every day 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.
CHRISTUS. Go call thy husband, woman, and come hither.
SAMARITAN WOMAN. I have no husband, Sir.
CHRISTUS. Thou hast well said I have no husband. Thou hast had five husbands; And he whom now thou hast is not thy husband.
SAMARITAN WOMAN. 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.
CHRISTUS. 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.
SAMARITAN WOMAN. Master, I know that the Messiah cometh, Which is called Christ; and he will tell us all things.
CHRISTUS. I that speak unto thee am He!
THE DISCIPLES, returning. Behold, 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!
SAMARITAN WOMAN. Oh, come see a man Who hath told me all things that I ever did! Say, is not this the Christ?
THE DISCIPLES. Lo, Master, here Is food, that we have brought thee from the city. We pray thee eat it.
CHRISTUS. 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?
CHRISTUS. 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?
JOHN. Some say That thou art John the Baptist; some, Elias; And others Jeremiah.
JAMES. Or that one Of the old Prophets is risen again.
CHRISTUS. But who say ye I am?
PETER. Thou art the Christ? Thou art the Son of God!
CHRISTUS. 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!
PETER. Be it far from thee, Lord! This shall not be!
CHRISTUS. 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. Why doth The Master lead us up into this mountain?
PETER. He goeth up to pray.
JOHN. 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.
JAMES. I am sore afraid!
PETER. Who and whence are they?
JOHN. Moses and Elias!
PETER. 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!
JOHN. 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!
PETER. It is the voice of God. He speaketh to us, As from the burning bush He spake to Moses!
JOHN. 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!
PETER, aside. Again He speaks of it! What can it mean, This rising from the dead?
JAMES. Why say the Scribe! Elias must first come?
CHRISTUS. 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.
PETER, aside. It is of John the Baptist He is speaking.
JAMES. 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.
PETER. It is some blind man, or some paralytic That waits the Master's coming to be healed.
JAMES. 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.
CHRISTUS. O faithless generation and perverse! How long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither.
BYSTANDERS. How the unclean spirit Seizes the boy, and tortures him with pain! He falleth to the ground and wallows, foaming! He cannot live.
CHRISTUS. How long is it ago Since this came unto him?
THE FATHER. Even of a child. Oh, have compassion on us, Lord, and help us, If thou canst help us.
CHRISTUS. If thou canst believe. For unto him that verily believeth, All things are possible.
THE FATHER. Lord, I believe! Help thou mine unbelief!
CHRISTUS. 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.
BYSTANDERS. How motionless He lieth there. No life is left in him. His eyes are like a blind man's, that see not. The boy is dead!
OTHERS. Behold! the Master stoops, And takes him by the hand, and lifts him up. He is not dead.
DISCIPLES. But one word from those lips, But one touch of that hand, and he is healed! Ah, why could we not do it?
THE FATHER. 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?
CHRISTUS. Because of your unbelief!
THE YOUNG RULER
CHRISTUS. 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. Children, children! 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!
A MOTHER. Speak not thus! We brought them here, that He might lay his hands On them, and bless them.
CHRISTUS. 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. Good Master! What good thing shall I do, that I may have Eternal life?
CHRISTUS. 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.
YOUNG RULER. Which of them?
CHRISTUS. 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.
YOUNG RULER. From my youth up All these things have I kept. What lack I yet?
JOHN. With what divine compassion in his eyes The Master looks upon this eager youth, As if he loved him!
CHRISTUS. 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.
JOHN. Behold, how sorrowful he turns away!
CHRISTUS. 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!
JOHN. Ah, who then can be saved?
CHRISTUS. With men this is indeed impossible, But unto God all things are possible!
PETER. Behold, we have left all, and followed thee. What shall we have therefor?
CHRISTUS. Eternal life.
MARTHA busy about household affairs. MARY sitting at the feet of CHRISTUS.
MARTHA. 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.
MARY. 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.
MARTHA. 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.
CHRISTUS. Martha, Martha, 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!
A JEW. Who is this beggar blinking in the sun? Is it not he who used to sit and beg By the Gate Beautiful?
ANOTHER. It is the same.
A THIRD. It is not he, but like him, for that beggar Was blind from birth. It cannot be the same.
THE BEGGAR. Yea, I am he.
A JEW. How have thine eyes been opened?
THE BEGGAR. 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.
A JEW. Where is he?
THE BEGGAR. I know not.
PHARISEES. What is this crowd Gathered about a beggar? What has happened?
A JEW. Here is a man who hath been blind from birth, And now he sees. He says a man called Jesus Hath healed him.
PHARISEES. As God liveth, the Nazarene! How was this done?
THE BEGGAR. Rabboni, he put clay Upon mine eyes; I washed, and now I see.
PHARISEES. When did he this?
THE BEGGAR. Rabboni, yesterday.
PHARISEES. The Sabbath day. This man is not of God, Because he keepeth not the Sabbath day!
A JEW. How can a man that is a sinner do Such miracles?
PHARISEES. What dost thou say of him That hath restored thy sight?
THE BEGGAR. He is a Prophet.
A JEW. This is a wonderful story, but not true, A beggar's fiction. He was not born blind, And never has been blind!
OTHERS. Here are his parents. Ask them.
PHARISEES. Is this your son?
THE PARENTS. Rabboni, yea; We know this is our son.
PHARISEES. Was he born blind?
THE PARENTS. He was born blind.
PHARISEES. 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.
PHARISEES. Give God the praise! We know the man that healed thee is a sinner!
THE BEGGAR. Whether He be a sinner, I know not; One thing I know; that whereas I was blind, I now do see.
PHARISEES. How opened he thine eyes? What did he do?
THE BEGGAR. I have already told you. Ye did not hear: why would ye hear again? Will ye be his disciples?
PHARISEES. 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!
THE BEGGAR. 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!
PHARISEES. 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.
SIMON. 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?
HELEN. It is fair, Yet not so fair as Tyre.
SIMON. Is not Mount Tabor As beautiful as Carmel by the Sea?
HELEN. 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!
SIMON. Inventions Of Abriman, the spirit of the dark, The Evil Spirit!
HELEN. I regret the gossip Of friends and neighbors at the open door On summer nights.
SIMON. An idle waste of time.
HELEN. 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!
SIMON. 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.
HELEN. 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!
SIMON. But the dishonor, Helen! Let the ships Of Tarshish howl for that!
HELEN. 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?
SIMON. 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!
HELEN. 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?
SIMON. 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!
HELEN. Illusions! Thou deceiver, self-deceived! Thou dost usurp the titles of another; Thou art not what thou sayest.
SIMON. Am I not? Then feel my power.
HELEN. Would I had ne'er left Tyre!
He looks at her, and she sinks into a deep sleep.
SIMON. 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.
HELEN, awaking. Oh, would I were at home!
SIMON. 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?
HELEN. The Nazarene still liveth.
SIMON. 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.
HELEN. So say those Who do not wish to find Him.
SIMON. 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, [Greek text]!
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! [Greek text]!
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, [Greek text]! [Greek text]! [Greek text]!
THE MOTHER. 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!
THE DAUGHTER. 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!
THE MOTHER. 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. Hosanna!
THE DAUGHTER. A crowd comes pouring through the city gate! O mother, look!
VOICES in the street. Hosanna to the Son Of David!
THE DAUGHTER. 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!
VOICES. Blessed Is he that cometh in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!
OTHER VOICES. Who is this?
VOICES. Jesus of Nazareth!
THE DAUGHTER. Mother, it is he!
VOICES. He hath called Lazarus of Bethany Out of his grave, and raised him from the dead! Hosanna in the highest!
PHARISEES. Ye perceive That nothing we prevail. Behold, the world Is all gone after him!
THE DAUGHTER. What majesty, What power is in that care-worn countenance! What sweetness, what compassion! I no longer Wonder that he hath healed me!
VOICES. Peace in heaven, And glory in the highest!
PHARISEES. Rabbi! Rabbi! Rebuke thy followers!
CHRISTUS. Should they hold their peace The very stones beneath us would cry out!
THE DAUGHTER. 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?
CHRISTUS. 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!
GAMALIEL. It is that loud and turbulent Galilean, That came here at the Feast of Dedication, And stirred the people up to break the Law!
CHRISTUS. 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!
GAMALIEL. How eagerly the people throng and listen, As if his ribald words were words of wisdom!
CHRISTUS. 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.
GAMALIEL. This brawler is no Jew,—he is a vile Samaritan, and hath an unclean spirit!
CHRISTUS. 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!
GAMALIEL. O my father's father! Hillel of blessed memory, hear and judge!
CHRISTUS. 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!
GAMALIEL. O Rabban Simeon! how must thy bones Stir in their grave to hear such blasphemies!
CHRISTUS. 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!
GAMALIEL. Patience of God! canst thou endure so long? Or art thou deaf, or gone upon a journey?
CHRISTUS. 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!
GAMALIEL. Am I awake? Is this Jerusalem? And are these Jews that throng and stare and listen?
CHRISTUS. 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!
GAMALIEL. 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!
CHRISTUS. 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!
THE PEOPLE. This is a Prophet! This is the Christ that was to come!
GAMALIEL. Ye fools! Think ye, shall Christ come out of Galilee?
LORD, IS IT I?
CHRISTUS. One of you shall betray me.
THE DISCIPLES. Is it I? Lord, is it I?
CHRISTUS. 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!
JUDAS ISCARIOT. Lord, is it I?
CHRISTUS. Ay, thou hast said. And that thou doest, do quickly.
JUDAS ISCARIOT, going out. Ah, woe is me!
CHRISTUS. 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.
PETER. O Master! though all men shall be offended Because of thee, yet will not I be!
CHRISTUS. Simon, 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.
PETER. Wherefore can I not follow thee? I am ready To go with thee to prison and to death.
CHRISTUS. Verily I say unto thee, this night, Ere the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice!
PETER. Though I should die, yet will I not deny thee.
CHRISTUS. When first I sent you forth without a purse, Or scrip, or shoes, did ye lack anything?
THE DISCIPLES. Not anything.
CHRISTUS. 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.
PETER. Behold, O Lord, Behold here are two swords!
CHRISTUS. It is enough.
THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE
CHRISTUS. My spirit is exceeding sorrowful Even unto death! Tarry ye here and watch.
He goes apart.
PETER. Under this ancient olive-tree, that spreads Its broad centennial branches like a tent, Let us lie down and rest.
JOHN. What are those torches, That glimmer on Brook Kedron there below us?
JAMES. It is some marriage feast; the joyful maidens Go out to meet the bridegroom.
PETER. I am weary. The struggles of this day have overcome me.
CHRISTUS, falling on his face. Father! all things are possible to thee,— Oh let this cup pass from me! Nevertheless Not as I will, but as thou wilt, be done!
Returning to the Disciples.
What! could ye not watch with me for one hour? Oh watch and pray, that ye may enter not Into temptation. For the spirit indeed Is willing, but the flesh is weak!
JOHN. Alas! It is for sorrow that our eyes are heavy.— I see again the glimmer of those torches Among the olives; they are coming hither.
JAMES. Outside the garden wall the path divides; Surely they come not hither.
They sleep again.
CHRISTUS, as before. O my Father! If this cup may not pass away from me, Except I drink of it, thy will be done.
Returning to the Disciples.
Sleep on; and take your rest!
JOHN. Beloved Master, Alas! we know not what to answer thee! It is for sorrow that our eves are heavy.— Behold, the torches now encompass us.
JAMES. They do but go about the garden wall, Seeking for some one, or for something lost.
They sleep again.
CHRISTUS, as before. If this cup may not pass away from me, Except I drink of it, thy will be done.
Returning to the Disciples.
It is enough! Behold, the Son of Man Hath been betrayed into the hands of sinners! The hour is come. Rise up, let us be going; For he that shall betray me is at hand.
JOHN. Ah me! See, from his forehead, in the torchlight, Great drops of blood are falling to the ground!
PETER. What lights are these? What torches glare and glisten Upon the swords and armor of these men? And there among them Judas Iscariot!
He smites the servant of the High-Priest with his sword.
CHRISTUS. Put up thy sword into its sheath; for they That take the sword shall perish with the sword. The cup my Father hath given me to drink, Shall I not drink it? Think'st thou that I cannot Pray to my Father, and that he shall give me More than twelve legions of angels presently!
JUDAS to CHRISTUS, kissing him. Hail, Master! hail!
CHRISTUS. Friend, wherefore art thou come? Whom seek ye?
CAPTAIN OF THE TEMPLE. Jesus of Nazareth.
CHRISTUS. I am he. Are ye come hither as against a thief, With swords and staves to take me? When I daily Was with you in the Temple, ye stretched forth No hands to take me! But this is your hour, And this the power of darkness. If ye seek Me only, let these others go their way.
The Disciples depart. CHRISTUS is bound and led away. A certain young man follows him, having a linen cloth cast about his body. They lay hold of him, and the young man flees from them naked.
THE PALACE OF CAIAPHAS
PHARISEES. What do we? Clearly something must we do, For this man worketh many miracles.
CAIAPHAS. I am informed that he is a mechanic; A carpenter's son; a Galilean peasant, Keeping disreputable company.
PHARISEES. The people say that here in Bethany He hath raised up a certain Lazarus, Who had been dead three days.
CAIAPHAS. Impossible! There is no resurrection of the dead; This Lazarus should be taken, and put to death As an impostor. If this Galilean Would be content to stay in Galilee, And preach in country towns, I should not heed him. But when he comes up to Jerusalem Riding in triumph, as I am informed, And drives the money-changers from the Temple, That is another matter.
PHARISEES. If we thus Let him alone, all will believe on him, And then the Romans come and take away Our place and nation.
CAIAPHAS. Ye know nothing at all. Simon Ben Camith, my great predecessor, On whom be peace! would have dealt presently With such a demagogue. I shall no less. The man must die. Do ye consider not It is expedient that one man should die, Not the whole nation perish? What is death? It differeth from sleep but in duration. We sleep and wake again; an hour or two Later or earlier, and it matters not, And if we never wake it matters not; When we are in our graves we are at peace, Nothing can wake us or disturb us more. There is no resurrection.
PHARISEES, aside. O most faithful Disciple of Hircanus Maccabaeus, Will nothing but complete annihilation Comfort and satisfy thee?
CAIAPHAS. While ye are talking And plotting, and contriving how to take him, Fearing the people, and so doing naught, I, who fear not the people, have been acting; Have taken this Prophet, this young Nazarene, Who by Beelzebub the Prince of devils Casteth out devils, and doth raise the dead, That might as well be dead, and left in peace. Annas my father-in-law hath sent him hither. I hear the guard. Behold your Galilean!
CHRISTUS is brought in bound.
SERVANT, in the vestibule. Why art thou up so late, my pretty damsel?
DAMSEL. Why art thou up so early, pretty man? It is not cock-crow yet, and art thou stirring?
SERVANT. What brings thee here?
DAMSEL. What brings the rest of you?
SERVANT. Come here and warm thy hands.
DAMSEL to PETER. Art thou not One of this man's also disciples?
PETER. I am not.
DAMSEL. Now surely thou art also one of them; Thou art a Galilean, and thy speech Betrayeth thee.
PETER. Woman, I know him not!
CAIAPHAS to CHRISTUS, in the Hall. Who art thou? Tell us plainly of thyself And of thy doctrines, and of thy disciples.
CHRISTUS. Lo, I have spoken openly to the world, I have taught ever in the Synagogue, And in the Temple, where the Jews resort In secret have said nothing. Wherefore then Askest thou me of this? Ask them that heard me What I have said to them. Behold, they know What I have said!
OFFICER, striking him, What, fellow! answerest thou The High-Priest so?
CHRISTUS. If I have spoken evil, Bear witness of the evil; but if well, Why smitest thou me?
CAIAPHAS. Where are the witnesses? Let them say what they know.
THE TWO FALSE WITNESSES. We heard him say: I will destroy this Temple made with hands, And will within three days build up another Made without hands.
SCRIBES and PHARISEES. He is o'erwhelmed with shame And cannot answer!
CAIAPHAS. Dost thou answer nothing? What is this thing they witness here against thee?
SCRIBES and PHARISEES. He holds his peace.
CAIAPHAS. Tell us, art thou the Christ? I do adjure thee by the living God, Tell us, art thou indeed the Christ?
CHRISTUS. I am. Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man Sit on the right hand of the power of God, And come in clouds of heaven!
CAIAPHAS, rending his clothes. It is enough. He hath spoken blasphemy! What further need Have we of witnesses? Now ye have heard His blasphemy. What think ye? Is he guilty?
SCRIBES and PHARISEES. Guilty of death!
KINSMAN OF MALCHUS to PETER in the vestibule. Surely I know thy face, Did I not see thee in the garden with him?
PETER. How couldst thou see me? I swear unto thee I do not know this man of whom ye speak!
The cock crows.
Hark! the cock crows! That sorrowful, pale face Seeks for me in the crowd, and looks at me, As if He would remind me of those words: Ere the cock crow thou shalt deny me thrice!
Goes out weeping. CHRISTUS is blindfolded and buffeted.
AN OFFICER, striking him with his palm. Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, thou Prophet! Who is it smote thee?
CAIAPHAS. Lead him unto Pilate!
PILATE. Wholly incomprehensible to me, Vainglorious, obstinate, and given up To unintelligible old traditions, And proud, and self-conceited are these Jews! Not long ago, I marched the legions Down from Caesarea to their winter-quarters Here in Jerusalem, with the effigies Of Caesar on their ensigns, and a tumult Arose among these Jews, because their Law Forbids the making of all images! They threw themselves upon the ground with wild Expostulations, bared their necks, and cried That they would sooner die than have their Law Infringed in any manner; as if Numa Were not as great as Moses, and the Laws Of the Twelve Tables as their Pentateuch!
And then, again, when I desired to span Their valley with an aqueduct, and bring A rushing river in to wash the city And its inhabitants,—they all rebelled As if they had been herds of unwashed swine! Thousands and thousands of them got together And raised so great a clamor round my doors, That, fearing violent outbreak, I desisted, And left them to their wallowing in the mire.
And now here comes the reverend Sanhedrim Of lawyers, priests, and Scribes and Pharisees, Like old and toothless mastiffs, that can bark But cannot bite, howling their accusations Against a mild enthusiast, who hath preached I know not what new doctrine, being King Of some vague kingdom in the other world, That hath no more to do with Rome and Caesar Than I have with the patriarch Abraham! Finding this man to be a Galilean I sent him straight to Herod, and I hope That is the last of it; but if it be not, I still have power to pardon and release him, As is the custom at the Passover, And so accommodate the matter smoothly, Seeming to yield to them, yet saving him, A prudent and sagacious policy For Roman Governors in the Provinces.
Incomprehensible, fanatic people! Ye have a God, who seemeth like yourselves Incomprehensible, dwelling apart, Majestic, cloud-encompassed, clothed in darkness! One whom ye fear, but love not; yet ye have No Goddesses to soften your stern lives, And make you tender unto human weakness, While we of Rome have everywhere around us Our amiable divinities, that haunt The woodlands, and the waters, and frequent Our households, with their sweet and gracious presence! I will go in, and, while these Jews are wrangling, Read my Ovidius on the Art of Love.
BARABBAS IN PRISON
BARABBAS, to his fellow-prisoners Barabbas is my name, Barabbas, the Son of Shame, Is the meaning, I suppose; I'm no better than the best, And whether worse than the rest Of my fellow-men, who knows?
I was once, to say it in brief, A highwayman, a robber-chief, In the open light of day. So much I am free to confess; But all men, more or less, Are robbers in their way.
From my cavern in the crags, From my lair of leaves and flags, I could see, like ants, below, The camels with their load Of merchandise, on the road That leadeth to Jericho.
And I struck them unaware, As an eagle from the air Drops down upon bird or beast; And I had my heart's desire Of the merchants of Sidon and Tyre, And Damascus and the East.
But it is not for that I fear; It is not for that I am here In these iron fetters bound; Sedition! that is the word That Pontius Pilate heard, And he liketh not the sound.
What think ye, would he care For a Jew slain here or there, Or a plundered caravan? But Caesar!—ah, that is a crime, To the uttermost end of time Shall not be forgiven to man.
Therefore was Herod wroth With Matthias Margaloth, And burned him for a show! Therefore his wrath did smite Judas the Gaulonite, And his followers, as ye know.
For that cause and no more, Am I here, as I said before; For one unlucky night, Jucundus, the captain of horse, Was upon us with all his force, And I was caught in the flight,
I might have fled with the rest, But my dagger was in the breast Of a Roman equerry, As we rolled there in the street, They bound me, hands and feet And this is the end of me.
Who cares for death? Not I! A thousand times I would die, Rather than suffer wrong! Already those women of mine Are mixing the myrrh and the wine; I shall not be with you long.
PILATE, on the tessellated pavement in front of his palace. Ye have brought unto me this man, as one Who doth pervert the people; and behold! I have examined him, and found no fault Touching the things whereof ye do accuse him. No, nor yet Herod; for I sent you to him, And nothing worthy of death he findeth in him. Ye have a custom at the Passover; That one condemned to death shall be released. Whom will ye, then, that I release to you? Jesus Barabbas, called the Son of Shame, Or Jesus, Son of Joseph, called the Christ?
THE PEOPLE, shouting. Not this man, but Barabbas!
PILATE. What then will ye That I should do with him that is called Christ?
THE PEOPLE. Crucify him!
PILATE. Why, what evil hath he done? Lo, I have found no cause of death in him; I will chastise him, and then let him go.
THE PEOPLE, more vehemently. Crucify him! crucify him!
A MESSENGER, to PILATE. Thy wife sends This message to thee,—Have thou naught to do With that just man; for I this day in dreams Have suffered many things because of him.
PILATE, aside. The Gods speak to us in our dreams! I tremble At what I have to do! O Claudia, How shall I save him? Yet one effort more, Or he must perish!
Washes his hands before them.
I am innocent Of the blood of this just person; see ye to it!
THE PEOPLE. Let his blood be on us and on our children!
VOICES, within the palace. Put on thy royal robes; put on thy crown, And take thy sceptre! Hail, thou King of the Jews!
PILATE. I bring him forth to you, that ye may know I find no fault in him. Behold the man!
CHRISTUS is led in with the purple robe and crown of thorns.
CHIEF PRIESTS and OFFICERS. Crucify him! crucify him!
PILATE. Take ye him; I find no fault in him.
CHIEF PRIESTS. We have a Law, And by our Law he ought to die; because He made himself to be the Son of God.
PILATE, aside. Ah! there are Sons of God, and demigods More than ye know, ye ignorant High-Priests!
To CHRISTUS. Whence art thou?
CHIEF PRIESTS. Crucify him! crucify him!
PILATE, to CHRISTUS. Dost thou not answer me? Dost thou not know That I have power enough to crucify thee? That I have also power to set thee free?
CHRISTUS. Thou couldst have no power at all against me Except that it were given thee from above; Therefore hath he that sent me unto thee The greater sin.
CHIEF PRIESTS. If thou let this man go, Thou art not Caesar's friend. For whosoever Maketh himself a King, speaks against Caesar.
PILATE. Ye Jews, behold your King!
CHIEF PRIESTS. Away with him! Crucify him!
PILATE. Shall I crucify your King?
CHIEF PRIESTS. We have no King but Caesar!
PILATE. Take him, then, Take him, ye cruel and bloodthirsty priests, More merciless than the plebeian mob, Who pity and spare the fainting gladiator Blood-stained in Roman amphitheatres,— Take him, and crucify him if ye will; But if the immortal Gods do ever mingle With the affairs of mortals, which I doubt not, And hold the attribute of justice dear, They will commission the Eumenides To scatter you to the four winds of heaven, Exacting tear for tear, and blood for blood. Here, take ye this inscription, Priests, and nail it Upon the cross, above your victim's head: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.
CHIEF PRIESTS. Nay, we entreat! write not, the King of the Jews! But that he said: I am the King of the Jews!