Home  »  Complete Poetical Works by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow  »  Part II. The Golden Legend. III. III. In the Cathedral

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

Christus: A Mystery

Part II. The Golden Legend. III. III. In the Cathedral

Kyrie Eleison!

Christe Eleison!

I am at home here in my Father’s house?

These paintings of the Saints upon the walls

Have all familiar and benignant faces.

The portraits of the family of God!

Thine own hereafter shall be placed among them.

How very grand it is and wonderful!

Never have I beheld a church so splendid!

Such columns, and such arches, and such windows,

So many tombs and statues in the chapels,

And under them so many confessionals.

They must be for the rich. I should not like

To tell my sins in such a church as this.

Who built it?

A great master of his craft,

Erwin von Steinbach; but not he alone,

For many generations labored with him.

Children that came to see these Saints in stone,

As day by day out of the blocks they rose,

Grew old and died, and still the work went on,

And on, and on, and is not yet completed.

The generation that succeeds our own

Perhaps may finish it. The architect

Built his great heart into these sculptured stones,

And with him toiled his children, and their lives

Were builded, with his own, into the walls,

As offerings unto God. You see that statue

Fixing its joyous, but deep-wrinkled eyes

Upon the Pillars of the Angels yonder.

That is the image of the master, carved

By the fair hand of his own child, Sabina.

How beautiful is the column that he looks at!

That, too, she sculptured. At the base of it

Stand the Evangelists; above their heads

Four Angels blowing upon marble trumpets,

And over them the blessed Christ, surrounded

By his attendant ministers, upholding

The instruments of his passion.

O my Lord!

Would I could leave behind me upon earth

Some monument to thy glory, such as this!

A greater monument than this thou leavest

In thine own life, all purity and love!

See, too, the Rose, above the western portal

Resplendent with a thousand gorgeous colors,

The perfect flower of Gothic loveliness!

And, in the gallery, the long line of statues,

Christ with his twelve Apostles watching us!

A BISHOP in armor, booted and spurred, passes with his train.

But come away; we have not time to look.

The crowd already fills the church, and yonder

Upon a stage, a herald with a trumpet,

Clad like the Angel Gabriel, proclaims

The Mystery that will now be represented.