Home  »  Complete Poetical Works by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow  »  Part I. The Divine Tragedy. The Second Passover. IX. At Bethany

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

Christus: A Mystery

Part I. The Divine Tragedy. The Second Passover. IX. At Bethany

MARTHA busy about household affairs. MARY sitting at the feet of CHRISTUS.

SHE sitteth idly at the Master’s feet,

And troubles not herself with household cares.

’T is the old story. When a guest arrives

She gives up all to be with him; while I

Must be the drudge, make ready the guest-chamber,

Prepare the food, set everything in order,

And see that naught is wanting in the house.

She shows her love by words, and I by works.

O Master! when thou comest, it is always

A Sabbath in the house. I cannot work;

I must sit at thy feet; must see thee, hear thee!

I have a feeble, wayward, doubting heart,

Incapable of endurance or great thoughts,

Striving for something that it cannot reach,

Baffled and disappointed, wounded, hungry;

And only when I hear thee am I happy,

And only when I see thee am at peace!

Stronger than I, and wiser, and far better

In every manner, is my sister Martha.

Thou seest how well she orders everything

To make thee welcome; how she comes and goes,

Careful and cumbered ever with much serving,

While I but welcome thee with foolish words!

Whene’er thou speakest to me, I am happy;

When thou art silent, I am satisfied.

Thy presence is enough. I ask no more.

Only to be with thee, only to see thee,

Sufficeth me. My heart is then at rest.

I wonder I am worthy of so much.

Lord, dost thou care not that my sister Mary

Hath left me thus to wait on thee alone?

I pray thee, bid her help me.

Martha, Martha,

Careful and troubled about many things

Art thou, and yet one thing alone is needful!

Thy sister Mary hath chosen that good part,

Which never shall be taken away from her!