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

The Myrrh

John Keble (1792–1866)

‘They gave Him to drink wine mingled with myrrh; but He received it not!—MARK XV. 23.

“FILL high the bowl, and spice it well and pour

The dews oblivious: for the Cross is sharp,

The Cross is sharp, and He

Is tenderer than a lamb.

“He wept by Lazarus’ grave—how will He bear

This bed of anguish? And His pale weak form

Is worn with many a watch

Of sorrow and unrest.

“His sweat last night was as great drops of blood,

And the sad burthen pressed Him so to earth,

The very torturers paus’d

To help Him on His way.

“Fill high the bowl, benumb His aching sense

With medicin’d sleep.”—O awful is Thy woe!

The parching thirst of death

Is on Thee, and Thou triest

The slumbrous potion bland, and wilt not drink:

Nor sullen, nor in scorn, like haughty man

With suicidal hand

Putting his solace by:

But as at first Thine all-pervading look

Saw from Thy Father’s bosom to th’ abyss

Measuring in calm presage

The infinite descent;

So to the end, though now of mortal pangs

Made heir, and emptied of Thy glory awhile,

With unaverted eye

Thou meetest all the storm.

Thou wilt feel all, that Thou mayest pity all;

And rather wouldst Thou wrestle with strong pain,

Than overcloud Thy soul

So clear in agony.

Or lose one glimpse of heaven before the time.

O most entire and perfect sacrifice,

Renew’d in every pulse

That on the tedious Cross

Told the long hours of death, as, one by one,

The life strings of that tender heart gave way.

Even sinners, taught by Thee

Look Sorrow in the face,

And bid her freely welcome, unbeguil’d

By false kind solaces, and spells of earth:

And yet not all unsooth’d;

For when was Joy so dear,

As the deep calm that breath’d, “Father, forgive,”

Or “Be with me in Paradise to-day!”

And, though the strife be sore,

Yet in His parting breath

Love masters agony; the soul that seem’d

Forsaken, feels her present God again,

And in her Father’s arms

Contented dies away.