Poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Christus: A Mystery



NATHANIEL, in the ship.
All is now ended.

                   Nay, He is arisen,
I ran unto the tomb, and stooping down
Looked in, and saw the linen grave-clothes lying,
Yet dared not enter.

                     I went in, and saw
The napkin that had been about his head,
Not lying with the other linen clothes,
But wrapped together in a separate place.

And I have seen Him.  I have seen the print
Of nails upon his hands, and thrust my hands
Into his side.  I know He is arisen;
But where are now the kingdom and the glory
He promised unto us?  We have all dreamed
That we were princes, and we wake to find
We are but fishermen.

                 Who should have been
Fishers of men!

            We have come back again
To the old life, the peaceful life, among
The white towns of the Galilean lake.

They seem to me like silent sepulchres
In the gray light of morning!  The old life,
Yea, the old life! for we have toiled all night
And have caught nothing.

                      Do ye see a man
Standing upon the beach and beckoning?
'T is like an apparition.  He hath kindled
A fire of coals, and seems to wait for us.
He calleth.

CHRISTUS, from the shore.
          Children, have ye any meat?

Alas! We have caught nothing.

                        Cast the net
On the right side of the ship, and ye shall find.

How that reminds me of the days gone by,
And one who said: Launch out into the deep,
And cast your nets!

            We have but let them down
And they are filled, so that we cannot draw them!

It is the Lord!

PETER, girding his fisher's coat about him.
              He said: When I am risen
I will go before you into Galilee!

He casts himself into the lake.

There is no fear in love; for perfect love
Casteth out fear.  Now then, if ye are men,
Put forth your strength; we are not far from shore;
The net is heavy, but breaks not.  All is safe.

PETER, on the shore.
Dear Lord! I heard thy voice and could not wait.
Let me behold thy face, and kiss thy feet!
Thou art not dead, thou livest!  Again I see thee.
Pardon, dear Lord!  I am a sinful man;
I have denied thee thrice.  Have mercy on me!

THE OTHERS, coming to land.
Dear Lord! stay with us! cheer us! comfort us!
Lo! we again have found thee!  Leave us not!

Bring hither of the fish that ye have caught,
And come and eat!

         Behold!  He breaketh bread
As He was wont.  From his own blessed hands
Again we take it.

                  Simon, son of Jonas,
Lovest thou me, more than these others?

More, Lord, than all men, even more than these.
Thou knowest that I love thee.

                      Feed my lambs.

THOMAS, aside.
How more than we do?  He remaineth ever
Self-confident and boastful as before.
Nothing will cure him.

                   Simon, son of Jonas,
Lovest thou me?

        Yea, dearest Lord, I love thee.
Thou knowest that I love thee.

                       Feed my sheep.

THOMAS, aside.
Again, the selfsame question, and the answer
Repeated with more vehemence.  Can the Master
Doubt if we love Him?

                  Simon, son of Jonas,
Lovest thou me?

PETER, grieved.
   Dear Lord, thou knowest all things.
Thou knowest that I love thee.

                       Feed my sheep.
When thou wast young thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst
Whither thou wouldst; but when thou shalt be old,
Thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and other men
Shall gird and carry thee whither thou wouldst not.
Follow thou me!

JOHN, aside.
                It is a prophecy
Of what death he shall die.

PETER, pointing to JOHN.
                      Tell me, O Lord,
And what shall this man do?

                        And if I will
He tarry till I come, what is it to thee?
Follow thou me!

Yea, I will follow thee, dear Lord and Master!
Will follow thee through fasting and temptation,
Through all thine agony and bloody sweat,
Thy cross and passion, even unto death!