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Poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Christus: A Mystery

X

THE THREE CROSSES

MANAHEM, THE ESSENIAN.
Three crosses in this noonday night uplifted,
Three human figures that in mortal pain
Gleam white against the supernatural darkness;
Two thieves, that writhe in torture, and between them
The Suffering Messiah, the Son of Joseph,
Ay, the Messiah Triumphant, Son of David!
A crown of thorns on that dishonored head!
Those hands that healed the sick now pierced with nails,
Those feet that wandered homeless through the world
Now crossed and bleeding, and at rest forever!
And the three faithful Maries, overwhelmed
By this great sorrow, kneeling, praying weeping!
O Joseph Caiaphas, thou great High-Priest
How wilt thou answer for this deed of blood?

SCRIBES and ELDERS.
Thou that destroyest the Temple, and dost build it
In three days, save thyself; and if thou be
The Son of God, come down now from the cross.

CHIEF PRIESTS.
Others he saved, himself he cannot save!
Let Christ the King of Israel descend
That we may see and believe!

SCRIBES and ELDERS.
                   In God he trusted;
Let Him deliver him, if He will have him,
And we will then believe.

CHRISTUS.
                Father! forgive them;
They know not what they do.

THE IMPENITENT THIEF.
                   If thou be Christ,
Oh save thyself and us!

THE PENITENT THIEF.
                       Remember me,
Lord, when thou comest into thine own kingdom.

CHRISTUS.
This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.

MANAHEN.
Golgotha! Golgotha!  Oh the pain and darkness!
Oh the uplifted cross, that shall forever
Shine through the darkness, and shall conquer pain
By the triumphant memory of this hour!

SIMON MAGUS.
O Nazarene!  I find thee here at last!
Thou art no more a phantom unto me!
This is the end of one who called himself
The Son of God!  Such is the fate of those
Who preach new doctrines.  'T is not what he did,
But what he said, hath brought him unto this.
I will speak evil of no dignitaries.
This is my hour of triumph, Nazarene!

THE YOUNG RULER.
This is the end of him who said to me:
Sell that thou hast, and give unto the poor!
This is the treasure in heaven he promised me!

CHRISTUS.
Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani!

A SOLDIER, preparing the hyssop.
He calleth for Elias!

ANOTHER.
                     Nay, let be!
See if Elias will now come to save him!

CHRISTUS.
I thirst.

A SOLDIER.
       Give him the wormwood!

CHRISTUS, with a loud cry, bowing his head.
                         It is finished!