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W. Garrett Horder, comp. The Poets’ Bible: New Testament. 1895.


Margaret Junkin Preston (1820–1897)

THREE women crept at break of day

Agrope along the shadowy way

Where Joseph’s tomb and garden lay.

With blanch of woe each face was white,

As the grey Orient’s waxing light

Brought back upon their awe-struck sight.

The sixth-day scene of anguish. Fast

The starkly standing cross they passed,

And, breathless, neared the gate at last.

Each on her throbbing bosom bore

A burden of such fragrant store

As never there had lain before.

Spices, the purest, richest, best,

That e’er the musky East possessed

From Ind to Araby-the-Blest,

Had they with sorrow-riven hearts

Searched all Jerusalem’s costliest marts

In quest of,—nards whose pungent arts

Should the dead sepulchre imbue

With vital odours through and through:

’Twas all their love had leave to do!

Christ did not need their gifts; and yet

Did either Mary once regret

Her offering? Did Salome fret

Over the unused aloes? Nay!

They counted not as waste, that day,

What they had brought their Lord. The way

Home seemed the path to heaven. They bare,

Thenceforth, about the robes they ware

The clinging perfume everywhere.

So, ministering as erst did these,

Go women forth by twos and threes

(Unmindful of their morning ease),

Through tragic darkness, murk and dim,

Where’er they see the faintest rim

Of promise,—all for sake of him

Who rose from Joseph’s tomb. They hold

It just such joy as those of old,

To tell the tale the Marys told.

Myrrh-bearers still,—at home, abroad,

What paths have holy women trod,

Burdened with votive gifts for God,—

Rare gifts, whose chiefest worth was priced

By this one thought, that all sufficed:

Their spices had been bruised for Christ!