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

The Marriage in Cana

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)

From Christus: A Mystery

The Musicians.—RISE up, my love, my fair one,

Rise up, and come away,

For lo! the winter is past,

The rain is over and gone,

The flowers appear on the earth,

The time of the singing of birds is come,

And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.

The Bridegroom.—Sweetly the minstrels sing the Song of Songs!

My heart runs forward with it, and I say:

Oh, set me as a seal upon thine heart,

And set me as a seal upon thine arm;

For love is strong as life, and strong as death,

And cruel as the grave is jealousy!

The Musicians.—I sleep, but my heart awaketh;

’Tis the voice of my beloved

Who knocketh, saying: Open to me,

My sister, my love, my dove,

For my head is filled with dew,

My locks with the drops of the night!

The Bride.—Ah yes, I sleep, and yet my heart awaketh;

It is the voice of my beloved who knocks.

The Bridegroom.—O beautiful as Rebecca at the fountain,

O beautiful as Ruth among the sheaves!

O fairest among women! O undefiled!

Thou art all fair, my love, there’s no spot in thee!

The Musicians.—My beloved is white and ruddy,

The chiefest among ten thousand;

His locks are black as a raven,

His eyes are the eyes of doves,

Of doves by the rivers of water,

His lips are like unto lilies,

Dropping sweet-smelling myrrh.

Architriclinus.—Who is that youth, with the dark azure eyes,

And hair, in colour like unto the wine,

Parted upon his forehead, and behind

Falling in flowing locks?

Paranymphus.—The Nazarene

Who preacheth to the poor in field and village

The coming of God’s Kingdom.

Architriclinus.—How serene

His aspect is! manly yet womanly.

Paranymphus.—Most beautiful among the sons of men!

Oft known to weep, but never known to laugh.

Architriclinus.—And tell me, she with eyes of olive tint,

And skin as fair as wheat, and pale brown hair,

The woman at his side?

Paranymphus.—His mother, Mary.

Architriclinus.—And the tall figure standing close behind them,

Clad all in white, with face and beard like ashes

As if he were Elias, the White Witness,

Come from his cave on Carmel to foretell

The end of all things?

Paranymphus.—That is Manahem,

The Essenian, he who dwells among the palms

Near the Dead Sea.

Architriclinus.—He who foretold to Herod

He should one day be king?

Paranymphus.—The same.

Architriclinus.—Then why

Doth he come here to sadden with his presence

Our marriage feast, belonging to a sect

Haters of women, and that taste not wine?

The Musicians.—My undefiled is but one,

The only one of her mother,

The choice of her that bare her;

The daughters saw her and blessed her;

The queens and the concubines praised her,

Saying: Lo! who is this

That looketh forth as the morning?

Manahem(aside).—The Ruler of the Feast is gazing at me,

As if He asked, why is that old man here

Among the revellers? And thou, the Anointed!

Why art thou here? I see as in a vision

A figure clothed in purple, crowned with thorns;

I see a cross uplifted in the darkness,

And hear a cry of agony, that shall echo

Forever and forever through the world!

Architriclinus.—Give us more wine. These goblets are all empty.

Mary(to Christus).—They have no wine!

Christus.—O woman, what have I

To do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come.

Mary(to the servants).—Whatever He shall say to you, that do.

Christus.—Fill up these pots with water.

The Musicians.—Come, my beloved,

Let us go forth into the field,

Let us lodge in the villages;

Let us get up early to the vineyards,

Let us see if the vine flourish,

Whether the tender grape appear,

And the pomegranates bud forth.

Christus.—Draw out now,

And bear unto the Ruler of the Feast.

Manahem(aside).—O Thou, brought up among the Essenians,

Nurtured in abstinence, taste not the wine!

It is the poison of dragons from the vineyards

Of Sodom, and the taste of death is in it.

Architriclinus(to the Bridegroom).—All men set forth good wine at the beginning,

And when men have well drunk, that which is worse;

But thou hast kept the good wine until now.

Manahem(aside).—The things that have been and shall be no more,

The things that are, and that hereafter shall be,

The things that might have been, and yet were not,

The fading twilight of great joys departed,

The daybreak of great truths as yet unrisen,

The intuition and the expectation

Of something, which, when come, is not the same,

But only like its forecast in men’s dreams,

The longing, the delay, and the delight,

Sweeter for the delay; youth, hope, love, death,

And disappointment which is also death,

All these make up the sum of human life;

A dream within a dream, a wind at night

Howling across the desert in despair,

Seeking for something lost, it cannot find.

Fate or foreseeing, or whatever name

Men call it, matters not; what is to be

Hath been fore-written in the thought divine

From the beginning. None can hide from it,

But it will find him out; nor run from it,

But it o’ertaketh him! The Lord had said it.

Bridegroom(to the Bride on the balcony).—When Abraham went with Sarah into Egypt,

The land was all illumined with her beauty;

But thou dost make the very night itself

Brighter than day! Behold, in glad procession,

Crowding the threshold of the sky above us,

The stars come forth to meet thee with their lamps;

And the soft winds, the ambassadors of flowers,

From neighbouring gardens and from fields unseen

Come laden with odours unto thee, my Queen!

The Musicians.—Awake, O North-wind,

And come, thou wind of the South,

Blow, blow upon my garden,

That the spices thereof may flow out.