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

St. John

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)

Wandering over the face of the Earth

THE AGES come and go,

The Centuries pass as Years;

My hair is white as the snow,

My feet are weary and slow,

The earth is wet with my tears!

The kingdoms crumble and fall

Apart, like a ruined wall,

Or a bank that is undermined

By a river’s ceaseless flow,

And leave no trace behind!

The world itself is old;

The portals of Time unfold

On hinges of iron, that grate

And groan with the rust and the weight,

Like the hinges of a gate

That hath fallen to decay;

But the evil doth not cease;

There is war instead of peace,

Instead of love there is hate;

And still I must wander and wait,

Still I must watch and pray,

Not forgetting in whose sight,

A thousand years in their flight

Are as a single day.

The life of man is a gleam

Of light that comes and goes

Like the course of the Holy Stream,

The cityless river, that flows

From fountains no one knows,

Through the Lake of Galilee,

Through forests and level lands,

Over rocks, and shallows, and sands

Of a wilderness wild and vast,

Till it findeth its rest at last

In the desolate Dead Sea!

But alas! alas for me,

Not yet this rest shall be!

What, then! doth Charity fail?

Is Faith of no avail?

Is Hope blown out like a light

By a gust of wind in the night?

The clashing of creeds, and the strife

Of the many beliefs, that in vain

Perplex man’s heart and brain,

Are nought but the rustle of leaves,

When the breath of God upheaves

The boughs of the Tree of Life,

And they subside again!

And I remember still

The words, and from whom they came,

Not he that repeateth the name,

But he that doeth the will!

And Him evermore I behold

Walking in Galilee,

Through the cornfield’s waving gold,

In hamlet, in wood, and in wold,

By the shores of the Beautiful Sea.

He toucheth the sightless eyes;

Before him the demons flee;

To the dead he sayeth: Arise!

To the living: Follow me!

And that voice still soundeth on

From the centuries that are gone,

To the centuries that shall be!

From all vain pomps and shows,

From the pride that overflows,

And the false conceits of men;

From all the narrow rules

And subtleties, of Schools,

And the craft of tongue and pen:

Bewildered in its search,

Bewildered with the cry:

Lo, here! lo, there, the Church!

Poor, sad Humanity

Through all the dust and heat

Turns back with bleeding feet,

By the weary road it came,

Unto the simple thought

By the Great Master taught,

And that remaineth still:

Not he that repeateth the name,

But he that doeth the will!