Home  »  Complete Poetical Works by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow  »  Part I. The Divine Tragedy. The First Passover. I. Vox Clamantis

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882). Complete Poetical Works. 1893.

Christus: A Mystery

Part I. The Divine Tragedy. The First Passover. I. Vox Clamantis

REPENT! repent! repent!

For the kingdom of God is at hand,

And all the land

Full of the knowledge of the Lord shall be

As the waters cover the sea,

And encircle the continent!

Repent! repent! repent!

For lo, the hour appointed,

The hour so long foretold

By the Prophets of old,

Of the coming of the Anointed,

The Messiah, the Paraclete,

The Desire of the Nations, is nigh!

He shall not strive nor cry,

Nor his voice be heard in the street;

Nor the bruised reed shall He break,

Nor quench the smoking flax;

And many of them that sleep

In the dust of earth shall awake,

On that great and terrible day,

And the wicked shall wail and weep,

And be blown like a smoke away,

And be melted away like wax.

Repent! repent! repent!

O Priest, and Pharisee,

Who hath warned you to flee

From the wrath that is to be?

From the coming anguish and ire?

The axe is laid at the root

Of the trees, and every tree

That bringeth not forth good fruit

Is hewn down and cast into the fire!

Ye Scribes, why come ye hither?

In the hour that is uncertain,

In the day of anguish and trouble,

He that stretcheth the heavens as a curtain

And spreadeth them out as a tent,

Shall blow upon you, and ye shall wither,

And the whirlwind shall take you away as stubble!

Repent! repent! repent!

Who art thou, O man of prayer!

In raiment of camel’s hair,

Begirt with leathern thong,

That here in the wilderness,

With a cry as of one in distress,

Preachest unto this throng?

Art thou the Christ?

Priest of Jerusalem,

In meekness and humbleness,

I deny not, I confess

I am not the Christ!

What shall we say unto them

That sent us here? Reveal

Thy name, and naught conceal!

Art thou Elias?


Art thou that Prophet, then,

Of lamentation and woe,

Who, as a symbol and sign

Of impending wrath divine

Upon unbelieving men,

Shattered the vessel of clay

In the Valley of Slaughter?


I am not he thou namest!

Who art thou, and what is the word

That here thou proclaimest?

I am the voice of one

Crying in the wilderness alone:

Prepare ye the way of the Lord;

Make his paths straight

In the land that is desolate!

If thou be not the Christ,

Nor yet Elias, nor he

That, in sign of the things to be,

Shattered the vessel of clay

In the Valley of Slaughter,

Then declare unto us, and say

By what authority now

Baptizest thou?

I indeed baptize you with water

Unto repentance; but He,

That cometh after me,

Is mightier than I and higher;

The latchet of whose shoes

I am not worthy to unloose;

He shall baptize you with fire,

And with the Holy Ghost!

Whose fan is in his hand;

He will purge to the uttermost

His floor, and garner his wheat,

But will burn the chaff in the brand

And fire of unquenchable heat!

Repent! repent! repent!