Home  »  Complete Poetical Works by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow  »  Part I. The Divine Tragedy. The Third Passover. V. The Palace of Caiaphas

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

Christus: A Mystery

Part I. The Divine Tragedy. The Third Passover. V. The Palace of Caiaphas

WHAT do we? Clearly something must we do,

For this man worketh many miracles.

I am informed that he is a mechanic;

A carpenter’s son; a Galilean peasant,

Keeping disreputable company.

The people say that here in Bethany

He hath raised up a certain Lazarus,

Who had been dead three days.


There is no resurrection of the dead;

This Lazarus should be taken, and put to death

As an impostor. If this Galilean

Would be content to stay in Galilee,

And preach in country towns, I should not heed him.

But when he comes up to Jerusalem

Riding in triumph, as I am informed,

And drives the money-changers from the Temple,

That is another matter.

If we thus

Let him alone, all will believe on him,

And then the Romans come and take away

Our place and nation.

Ye know nothing at all.

Simon Ben Camith, my great predecessor,

On whom be peace! would have dealt presently

With such a demagogue. I shall no less.

The man must die. Do ye consider not

It is expedient that one man should die,

Not the whole nation perish? What is death?

It differeth from sleep but in duration.

We sleep and wake again; an hour or two

Later or earlier, and it matters not,

And if we never wake it matters not;

When we are in our graves we are at peace,

Nothing can wake us or disturb us more.

There is no resurrection.

O most faithful

Disciple of Hircanus Maccabæus,

Will nothing but complete annihilation

Comfort and satisfy thee?

While ye are talking

And plotting, and contriving how to take him,

Fearing the people, and so doing naught,

I, who fear not the people, have been acting;

Have taken this Prophet, this young Nazarene,

Who by Beelzebub the Prince of devils

Casteth out devils, and doth raise the dead,

That might as well be dead, and left in peace.

Annas my father-in-law hath sent him hither.

I hear the guard. Behold your Galilean!

HRISTUS is brought in bound.

SERVANT, in the vestibule.
Why art thou up so late, my pretty damsel?

Why art thou up so early, pretty man?

It is not cock-crow yet, and art thou stirring?

What brings thee here?

What brings the rest of you?

Come here and warm thy hands.

Art thou not also

One of this man’s disciples?

I am not.

Now surely thou art also one of them;

Thou art a Galilean, and thy speech

Bewrayeth thee.

Woman, I know him not!

CAIAPHAS to CHRISTUS, in the Hall.
Who art thou? Tell us plainly of thyself

And of thy doctrines, and of thy disciples.

Lo, I have spoken openly to the world,

I have taught ever in the Synagogue,

And in the Temple, where the Jews resort;

In secret have said nothing. Wherefore then

Askest thou me of this? Ask them that heard me

What I have said to them. Behold, they know

What I have said!

OFFICER, striking him.
What, fellow! answerest thou

The High-Priest so?

If I have spoken evil,

Bear witness of the evil; but if well,

Why smitest thou me?

Where are the witnesses?

Let them say what they know.

We heard him say:

I will destroy this Temple made with hands,

And will within three days build up another

Made without hands.

He is o’erwhelmed with shame

And cannot answer!

Dost thou answer nothing?

What is this thing they witness here against thee?

He holds his peace.

Tell us, art thou the Christ?

I do adjure thee by the living God,

Tell us, art thou indeed the Christ?

I am.

Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man

Sit on the right hand of the power of God,

And come in clouds of heaven!

CAIAPHAS, rending his clothes.
It is enough.

He hath spoken blasphemy! What further need

Have we of witnesses? Now ye have heard

His blasphemy. What think ye? Is he guilty?

Guilty of death!

KINSMAN OF MALCHUS to PETER, in the vestibule.
Surely I know thy face,

Did I not see thee in the garden with him?

How couldst thou see me? I swear unto thee

I do not know this man of whom ye speak!

The cock crows.

Hark! the cock crows! That sorrowful, pale face

Seeks for me in the crowd, and looks at me,

As if He would remind me of those words:

Ere the cock crow thou shalt deny me thrice!

Goes out weeping. CHRISTUS is blindfolded and buffeted.

AN OFFICER, striking him with his palm.
Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, thou Prophet!

Who is it smote thee?

Lead him unto Pilate!