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Poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Christus: A Mystery

IV

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!

CHRISTUS.
                             Hail!

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!