I turn me to the gospel-tale:--
My hope is faint with fear
That hungriest search will not avail
To find a refuge here.
A misty wind blows bare and rude
From dead seas of the past;
- through the clouds that halt and brood, Dim dawns a shape at last:
A sad worn man who bows his face,
And treads a frightful path,
To save an abject hopeless race
From an eternal wrath.
Kind words he speaks--but all the time
As from a formless height
To which no human foot can climb--
Half-swathed in ancient night.
Nay, sometimes, and to gentle heart,
Unkind words from him go!
Surely it is no saviour's part
To speak to women so!
Much rather would I refuge take
With Mary, dear to me,
To whom that rough hard speech he spake--
What have I to do with thee?
Surely I know men tenderer,
Women of larger soul,
- need no prayer their hearts to stir, Who always would make whole!
Oftenest he looks a weary saint,
Embalmed in pallid gleam;
Listless and sad, without complaint,
Like dead man in a dream.
And, at the best, he is uplift
A spectacle, a show:--
- worth of such an outworn gift I know too much to know!
- find the love to pay my debt?-- He leads me from the sun!--
- it is hard men should forget A good deed ever done!--
Forget that he, to foil a curse,
Did, on that altar-hill,
- of a sunless universe,
Hang dying, patient, still!
- what is He, whose pardon slow At so much blood is priced?--
If such thou art, O Jove, I go
To the Promethean Christ!