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Poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Christus: A Mystery

X

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!