Home  »  Complete Poetical Works by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow  »  Part I. The Divine Tragedy. The First Passover. VII. The Demoniac of Gadara

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

Christus: A Mystery

Part I. The Divine Tragedy. The First Passover. VII. The Demoniac of Gadara

HE hath escaped, hath plucked his chains asunder,

And broken his fetters; always night and day

Is in the mountains here, and in the tombs,

Crying aloud, and cutting himself with stones,

Exceeding fierce, so that no man can tame him!

THE DEMONIAC from above, unseen.
O Aschmedai! O Aschmedai, have pity!

Listen! It is his voice! Go warn the people

Just landing from the lake!

O Aschmedai!

Thou angel of the bottomless pit, have pity!

It was enough to hurl King Solomon,

On whom be peace! two hundred leagues away

Into the country, and to make him scullion

In the kitchen of the King of Maschkemen!

Why dost thou hurl me here among these rocks,

And cut me with these stones?

He raves and mutters

He knows not what.

THE DEMONIAC, appearing from a tomb among the rocks.
The wild cock Tarnegal

Singeth to me, and bids me to the banquet,

Where all the Jews shall come; for they have slain

Behemoth the great ox, who daily cropped

A thousand hills for food, and at a draught

Drank up the river Jordan, and have slain

The huge Leviathan, and stretched his skin

Upon the high walls of Jerusalem,

And made them shine from one end of the world

Unto the other; and the fowl Barjuchne,

Whose outspread wings eclipse the sun, and make

Midnight at noon o’er all the continents!

And we shall drink the wine of Paradise

From Adam’s cellars.

O thou unclean spirit!

THE DEMONIAC, hurling down a stone.
This is the wonderful Barjuchne’s egg,

That fell out of her nest, and broke to pieces

And swept away three hundred cedar-trees,

And threescore villages!—Rabbi Eliezer,

How thou didst sin there in that seaport town

When thou hadst carried safe thy chest of silver

Over the seven rivers for her sake!

I too have sinned beyond the reach of pardon.

Ye hills and mountains, pray for mercy on me!

Ye stars and planets, pray for mercy on me!

Ye sun and moon, oh pray for mercy on me!

CHRISTUS and his disciples pass.

There is a man here of Decapolis,

Who hath an unclean spirit; so that none

Can pass this way. He lives among the tombs

Up there upon the cliffs, and hurls down stones

On those who pass beneath.

Come out of him,

Thou unclean spirit!

What have I to do

With thee, thou Son of God? Do not torment us.

What is thy name?

Legion; for we are many.

Cain, the first murderer; and the King Belshazzar,

And Evil Merodach of Babylon,

And Admatha, the death-cloud, prince of Persia;

And Aschmedai, the angel of the pit,

And many other devils. We are Legion.

Send us not forth beyond Decapolis;

Command us not to go into the deep!

There is a herd of swine here in the pastures,

Let us go into them.

Come out of him,

Thou unclean spirit!

See, how stupefied,

How motionless he stands! He cries no more;

He seems bewildered and in silence stares

As one who, walking in his sleep, awakes

And knows not where he is, and looks about him,

And at his nakedness, and is ashamed.

Why am I here alone among the tombs?

What have they done to me, that I am naked?

Ah, woe is me!

Go home unto thy friends

And tell them how great things the Lord hath done

For thee, and how He had compassion on thee!

A SWINEHERD, running.
The herds! the herds! O most unlucky day!

They were all feeding quiet in the sun,

When suddenly they started, and grew savage

As the wild boars of Tabor, and together

Rushed down a precipice into the sea!

They are all drowned!

Thus righteously are punished

The apostate Jews, that eat the flesh of swine,

And broth of such abominable things!

We sacrifice a sow unto Demeter

At the beginning of harvest, and another

To Dionysus at the vintage-time.

Therefore we prize our herds of swine, and count them

Not as unclean, but as things consecrate

To the immortal gods. O great magician,

Depart out of our coasts; let us alone,

We are afraid of thee.

Let us depart;

For they that sanctify and purify

Themselves in gardens, eating flesh of swine,

And the abomination, and the mouse,

Shall be consumed together, saith the Lord!