Home  »  Complete Poetical Works by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow  »  Part I. The Divine Tragedy. The Second Passover. III. Under the Walls of Machærus

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

Christus: A Mystery

Part I. The Divine Tragedy. The Second Passover. III. Under the Walls of Machærus

MANAHEM, rushing out.
AWAY from this Palace of sin!

The demons, the terrible powers

Of the air, that haunt its towers

And hide in its water-spouts,

Deafen me with the din

Of their laughter and their shouts

For the crimes that are done within!

Sink back into the earth,

Or vanish into the air,

Thou castle of despair!

Let it all be but a dream

Of the things of monstrous birth,

Of the things that only seem!

White Angel of the Moon,

Onafiel! be my guide

Out of this hateful place

Of sin and death, nor hide

In you black cloud too soon

Thy pale and tranquil face!

A trumpet is blown from the walls.

Hark! hark! It is the breath

Of the trump of doom and death,

From the battlements overhead

Like a burden of sorrow cast

On the midnight and the blast,

A wailing for the dead,

That the gusts drop and uplift!

O Herod, thy vengeance is swift!

O Herodias, thou hast been

The demon, the evil thing,

That in place of Esther the Queen,

In place of the lawful bride,

Hast lain at night by the side

Of Ahasuerus the king!

The trumpet again.

The Prophet of God is dead!

At a drunken monarch’s call,

At a dancing-woman’s beck,

They have severed that stubborn neck

And into the banquet-hall

Are bearing the ghastly head!

A body is thrown from the tower.

A torch of lurid red

Lights the window with its glow;

And a white mass as of snow

Is hurled into the abyss

Of the black precipice,

That yawns for it below!

O hand of the Most High,

O hand of Adonai!

Bury it, hide it away

From the birds and beasts of prey,

And the eyes of the homicide,

More pitiless than they,

As thou didst bury of yore

The body of him that died

On the mountain of Peor!

Even now I behold a sign,

A threatening of wrath divine,

A watery, wandering star,

Through whose streaming hair, and the white

Unfolding garments of light,

That trail behind it afar,

The constellations shine!

And the whiteness and brightness appear

Like the Angel bearing the Seer

By the hair of his head, in the might

And rush of his vehement flight.

And I listen until I hear

From fathomless depths of the sky

The voice of his prophecy

Sounding louder and more near!

Malediction! malediction!

May the lightnings of heaven fall

On palace and prison wall,

And their desolation be

As the day of fear and affliction,

As the day of anguish and ire,

With the burning and fuel of fire,

In the Valley of the Sea!