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Poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Christus: A Mystery

IN THE GARDEN

ELSIE.
I have one thing to ask of you.

PRINCE HENRY.
                          What is it?
It is already granted.

ELSIE.
                       Promise me,
When we are gone from here, and on our way
Are journeying to Salerno, you will not,
By word or deed, endeavor to dissuade me
And turn me from my purpose; but remember
That as a pilgrim to the Holy City
Walks unmolested, and with thoughts of pardon
Occupied wholly, so would I approach
The gates of Heaven, in this great jubilee,
With my petition, putting off from me
All thoughts of earth, as shoes from off my feet.
Promise me this.

PRINCE HENRY.
Thy words fall from thy lips
Like roses from the lips of Angelo: and angels
Might stoop to pick them up!

ELSIE.
                Will you not promise?

PRINCE HENRY.
If ever we depart upon this journey,
So long to one or both of us, I promise.

ELSIE.
Shall we not go, then?  Have you lifted me
Into the air, only to hurl me back
Wounded upon the ground? and offered me
The waters of eternal life, to bid me
Drink the polluted puddles of the world?

PRINCE HENRY.
O Elsie! what a lesson thou dost teach me!
The life which is, and that which is to come,
Suspended hang in such nice equipoise
A breath disturbs the balance; and that scale
In which we throw our hearts preponderates,
And the other, like an empty one, flies up,
And is accounted vanity and air!
To me the thought of death is terrible,
Having such hold on life.  To thee it is not
So much even as the lifting of a latch;
Only a step into the open air
Out of a tent already luminous
With light that shines through its transparent walls!
O pure in heart! from thy sweet dust shall grow
Lilies, upon whose petals will be written
"Ave Maria" in characters of gold!