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Poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Christus: A Mystery



Two men went up into the temple to pray.
The one was a self-righteous Pharisee,
The other a Publican.  And the Pharisee
Stood and prayed thus within himself: O God,
I thank thee I am not as other men,
Extortioners, unjust, adulterers,
Or even as this Publican.  I fast
Twice in the week, and also I give tithes
Of all that I possess!  The Publican,
Standing afar off, would not lift so much
Even as his eyes to heaven, but smote his breast,
Saying: God be merciful to me a sinner!
I tell you that this man went to his house
More justified than the other.  Every one
That doth exalt himself shall be abased,
And he that humbleth himself shall be exalted!

CHILDREN, among themselves.
Let us go nearer!  He is telling stories!
Let us go listen to them.

                   Children, children!
What are ye doing here?  Why do ye crowd us?
It was such little vagabonds as you
That followed Elisha, mucking him and crying:
Go up, thou bald-head!  But the bears--the bears
Came out of the wood, and tare them!

                      Speak not thus!
We brought them here, that He might lay his hands
On them, and bless them.

                   Suffer little children
To come unto me, and forbid them not;
Of such is the kingdom of heaven; and their angels
Look always on my Father's face.

Takes them in his arms and blesses them.

A YOUNG RULER, running.
                       Good Master!
What good thing shall I do, that I may have
Eternal life?

            Why callest thou me good?
There is none good but one, and that is God.
If thou wilt enter into life eternal,
Keep the commandments.

                   Which of them?

                     Thou shalt not
Commit adultery; thou shalt not kill;
Thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not bear false witness;
Honor thy father and thy mother; and love
Thy neighbor as thyself.

                   From my youth up
All these things have I kept.  What lack I yet?

With what divine compassion in his eyes
The Master looks upon this eager youth,
As if he loved him!

               Wouldst thou perfect be,
Sell all thou hast, and give it to the poor,
And come, take up thy cross, and follow me,
And thou shalt have thy treasure in the heavens.

Behold, how sorrowful he turns away!

Children! how hard it is for them that trust
In riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
'T is easier for a camel to go through
A needle's eye, than for the rich to enter
The kingdom of God!

         Ah, who then can be saved?

With men this is indeed impossible,
But unto God all things are possible!

Behold, we have left all, and followed thee.
What shall we have therefor?

                        Eternal life.