Poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Christus: A Mystery



CHRISTUS, reading in the Synagogue.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me.
He hath anointed me to preach good tidings
Unto the poor; to heal the broken-hearted;
To comfort those that mourn, and to throw open
The prison doors of captives, and proclaim
The Year Acceptable of the Lord, our God!

He closes the book and sits down.

Who is this youth?  He hath taken the Teacher's seat!
Will he instruct the Elders?

                            Fifty years
Have I been Priest here in the Synagogue,
And never have I seen so young a man
Sit in the Teacher's seat!

                         Behold, to-day
This scripture is fulfilled.  One is appointed
And hath been sent to them that mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes, and the oil
Of joy for mourning!  They shall build again
The old waste-places; and again raise up
The former desolations, and repair
The cities that are wasted!  As a bridegroom
Decketh himself with ornaments; as a bride
Adorneth herself with jewels, so the Lord
Hath clothed me with the robe of righteousness!

He speaks the Prophet's words; but with an air
As if himself had been foreshadowed in them!

For Zion's sake I will not hold my peace,
And for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest
Until its righteousness be as a brightness,
And its salvation as a lamp that burneth!
Thou shalt be called no longer the Forsaken,
Nor any more thy land the Desolate.
The Lord hath sworn, by his right hand hath sworn,
And by his arm of strength: I will no more
Give to thine enemies thy corn as meat;
The sons of strangers shall not drink thy wine.
Go through, go through the gates!  Prepare a way
Unto the people!  Gather out the stones!
Lift up a standard for the people!

These are seditious words!

             And they shall call them
The holy people; the redeemed of God!
And thou, Jerusalem, shalt be called Sought out,
A city not forsaken!

                     Is not this
The carpenter Joseph's son?  Is not his mother
Called Mary? and his brethren and his sisters
Are they not with us?  Doth he make himself
To be a Prophet?

                 No man is a Prophet
In his own country, and among his kin.
In his own house no Prophet is accepted.
I say to you, in the land of Israel
Were many widows in Elijah's day,
When for three years and more the heavens were shut,
And a great famine was throughout the land;
But unto no one was Elijah sent
Save to Sarepta, to a city of Sidon,
And to a woman there that was a widow.
And many lepers were then in the land
Of Israel, in the time of Eliseus
The Prophet, and yet none of them was cleansed,
Save Naaman the Syrian!

                      Say no more!
Thou comest here into our Synagogue
And speakest to the Elders and the Priests,
As if the very mantle of Elijah
Had fallen upon thee!  Are thou not ashamed?

We want no Prophets here!  Let him be driven
From Synagogue and city!  Let him go
And prophesy to the Samaritans!

The world is changed.  We Elders are as nothing!
We are but yesterdays, that have no part
Or portion in to-day!  Dry leaves that rustle,
That make a little sound, and then are dust!

A carpenter's apprentice! a mechanic,
Whom we have seen at work here in the town
Day after day; a stripling without learning,
Shall he pretend to unfold the Word of God
To men grown old in study of the Law?

CHRISTUS is thrust out.