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And without tears (since grief would trouble him
Whose soul was always sorrowful) to kneel
And minister alone, - her heart gave way!
She covered up her face and turned again
To wait within for Jesus. But once more
Came Martha, saying, “Lo! the Lord is here
And calleth for thee, Mary!” Then arose
The mourner from the ground, whereon she sate
Shrouded in sackcloth, and bound quickly up
The golden locks of her dishevelled hair,
And o'er her ashy garments drew a veil
Hiding the eyes she could not trust. And still,
As she made ready to go forth, a calm
As in a dream fell on her.
At a fount Hard by the sepulchre, without the wall, Jesus awaited Mary. Seated near Were the wayworn disciples in the shade; But, of himself forgetful, Jesus leaned Upon his staff, and watched where she should come To whose one sorrow - but a sparrow's falling The pity that redeemed a world could bleed ! And as she came, with that uncertain step, Eager, yet weak, her hands upon her breast, And they who followed her all fallen back To leave her with her sacred grief alone, The heart of Christ was troubled. She drew near, And the disciples rose up from the fount, Moved by her look of woe, and gathered round; And Mary, for a moment, ere she looked
Upon the Saviour, stayed her faltering feet,
And straightened her veiled form, and tighter drew
Her clasp upon the folds across her breast;
Then, with a vain strife to control her tears,
She staggered to their midst, and at his feet
Fell prostrate, saying, “Lord ! hadst thou been here,
My brother had not died !” The Saviour groaned
In spirit; and stooped tenderly, and raised
The mourner from the ground, and in a voice,
Broke in its utterance like her own, he said,
“ Where have
laid him ? " Then the Jews who came, Following Mary, answered through their tears, “Lord, come and see!” But lo! the mighty heart That in Gethsemane sweat drops of blood, Taking for us the cup that might not pass, The heart whose breaking cord upon the cross Made the earth tremble, and the sun afraid To look upon his agony,
the heart Of a lost world's Redeemer, - overflowed, Touched by a mourner's sorrow! Jesus wept.
Calmed by those pitying tears, and fondly brooding
Upon the thought that Christ so loved her brother,
Stood Mary there ; but that last burden now
Lay on his heart who pitied her; and Christ,
Following slow, and groaning in himself,
Came to the sepulchre. It was a cave,
And a stone lay upon it. Jesus said,
“ Take ye away the stone !” Then lifted he
His moistened eyes to heaven, and while the Jews
And the disciples bent their heads in awe,
And trembling Mary sank upon her knees,
The Son of God prayed audibly. He ceased,
And for a minute's space there was a hush,
As if the angelic watchers of the world
Had stayed the pulses of all breathing things,
To listen to that prayer. The face of Christ
Shone as he stood, and over him there came
Command, as 't were the living face of God,
And with a loud voice, he cried, “Lazarus !
Come forth !” And instantly, bound hand and foot,
And borne by unseen angels from the cave,
He that was dead stood with them. At the word
Of Jesus, the fear-stricken Jews unloosed
The bands from off the foldings of his shroud;
And Mary, with her dark veil thrown aside,
Ran to him swiftly, and cried, “ Lazarus !
My brother, Lazarus !” and tore away
The napkin she had bound about his head,
And touched the warm lips with her fearful hand,
And on his neck fell weeping. And while all
Lay on their faces prostrate, Lazarus
Took Mary by the hand, and they knelt down
And worshipped him who loved them.
Nathaniel Parker Willis.
YCARCE fifteen furlongs from the city-gates,
Embayed among the green Judæan hills (Not yet the wrath was come to the uttermost Upon that land), like a dew-drop in a leaf
Lay Bethany. Who knows not Bethany, ,
The town of Mary and her sister, loved
By our dear Lord, what time his blessed feet
Were known in Jewry? Who will place me there ?
What spirit that whilom wont with viewless wing
Angelical, on ancient Olivet,
Temper the sultry wind of midsummer
For the pale forehead of the Son of Man,
Walking to Bethany, will bid the home,
By him beloved, stand as then it stood
Beneath the summer sky? No home, methinks,
Such as high fancy frames with delicate craft
In the sunny Orient, — where the half-shut eye
Sees the great stars and the transparent blue
Betwixt two marble columns, - and around
The rich red roses swing like wreaths of fire, –
And spouted water all night passioneth
Its silver weeping in a purple shell.
Not such a home in sooth, yet beautiful,
With lovelier beauty. Prospect is there thence
Of the Holy City, joy of all the earth,
Theatre of miracles and of mysteries;
And of that fane with all its marble pomp,
Which, moonlight-touched, might seem a great white rose
Worn in the night-dark hair of goddess old.
There to that home in Bethany came up
The city murmurs,
murmurs of that sea
Which roars or sobs forever in the streets,
With every drop of every wave a life;
And there the arméd heel and ringing tread
Of Pilate's sentinels, pacing to and fro,
Was almost heard upon a quiet eve.
But to that home came too, forevermore,
Or came, or seemed to come, - an echo, blent
With Kedron's murmurs of the mighty music
Up from the Temple, that had panted round
Fragrant and fadeless flowers, that live on
Steeped in the eternal sunset of their gold,
With incense rolling round about like clouds,
And silver lamps hung over them like stars,
And chants that hurried by them like a river;
There, too, were things wherewith the childlike East
Is well content to entertain the hours,
Garden and grove, and marble to allure
The fountain, — and a sepulchre hard by.
MARTHA, busy about household affairs. MARY, sitting at the
feet of Christ.
MARTHA, Slae sitteth idly at the Master's feet,
'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 !