Home  »  The Poets’ Bible  »  The Crucifixion

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

The Crucifixion

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892)

SUNLIGHT upon Judea’s hills!

And on the waves of Galilee,—

On Jordan’s stream, and on the rills

That feed the dead and sleeping sea!

Most freshly from the greenwood springs

The light breeze on its scented wings;

And gaily quiver in the sun

The cedar tops of Lebanon!

A few more hours,—a change hath come!

The sky is dark without a cloud!

The shouts of wrath and joy are dumb,

And proud knees unto earth are bowed.

A change is on the hill of death,

The beloved watchers pant for breath,

And turn with wild and maniac eyes

From the dark scene of sacrifice.

That Sacrifice!—the death of Him,—

The High and ever Holy One!

Well may the conscious Heaven grow dim,

And blacken the beholding Sun.

The wonted light hath fled away,

Night settles in the middle day,

And earthquake from his caverned bed

Is waking with a thrill of dread!

The dead are waking underneath!

Their prison door is rent away!

And, ghastly with the seal of death

They wander in the eye of day!

The temple of the Cherubim

The House of God is cold and dim;

A curse is on its trembling walls,

Its mighty veil asunder falls!

Well may the cavern-depths of Earth

Be shaken and her mountains nod;

Well may the sheeted dead come forth

To gaze upon a suffering God!

Well may the temple shrine grow dim,

And shadows veil the Cherubim,

When He, the chosen one of Heaven,

A sacrifice for guilt is given!

And shall the sinful heart, alone,

Behold unmoved the atoning hour,

When Nature trembles on her throne,

And Death resigns his iron power?

O, shall the heart,—whose sinfulness

Gave keenness to his sore distress,

And added to his tears of blood,—

Refuse its trembling gratitude?