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

Christus: A Mystery

Part II. The Golden Legend. II. VII. In the Garden

I HAVE one thing to ask of you.

What is it?

It is already granted.

Promise me,

When we are gone from here, and on our way

Are journeying to Salerno, you will not,

By word or deed, endeavor to dissuade me

And turn me from my purpose; but remember

That as a pilgrim to the Holy City

Walks unmolested, and with thoughts of pardon

Occupied wholly, so would I approach

The gates of Heaven, in this great jubilee,

With my petition, putting off from me

All thoughts of earth, as shoes from off my feet.

Promise me this.

Thy words fall from thy lips

Like roses from the lips of Angelo: and angels

Might stoop to pick them up!

Will you not promise?

If ever we depart upon this journey,

So long to one or both of us, I promise.

Shall we not go, then? Have you lifted me

Into the air, only to hurl me back

Wounded upon the ground? and offered me

The waters of eternal life, to bid me

Drink the polluted puddles of this world?

O Elsie! what a lesson thou dost teach me!

The life which is, and that which is to come,

Suspended hang in such nice equipoise

A breath disturbs the balance; and that scale

In which we throw our hearts preponderates,

And the other, like and empty one, flies up,

And is accounted vanity and air!

To me the thought of death is terrible,

Having such hold on life. To thee it is not

So much even as the lifting of a latch;

Only a step into the open air

Out of a tent already luminous

With light that shines through its transparent walls!

O pure in heart! from thy sweet dust shall grow

Lilies, upon whose petals will be written

“Ave Maria” in characters of gold!