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

“Were There Not Ten Cleansed?”

Edward Hayes Plumptre (1821–1891)

WITH veil tight drawn o’er face,

As if to hide the brand of their disgrace,

Behold the lepers stand;

And voice, in wailing keen,

Sounds through the noon-tide air “Unclean! unclean!”

Far heard o’er waste of sand.

They may not dwell at home;

Far off from haunts of men they yet must roam;

Nor dare they even clasp

The hand of loving friend,

Doomed to an exile that can know no end,

All hope beyond their grasp.

Strange fellowship it brings,

That sore disease that levels slaves and kings,

Breaking through pride of creed,

Those who in Shechem dwell,

Whom Rabbis curse to depths of lowest hell,

With Abraham’s nobler seed.

So, herding in their shame,

The rumour spreads like flash of summer flame,

That One had power to heal,

And they haste on to show

Their leprous scales, foul, ghastly, white as snow,

And at His feet they kneel.

Then sudden flush of health

Runs through their veins, as if in subtle stealth,

And brings back joy of youth;

They turn, and, as they speed,

Know in their flesh that they are healed indeed;

The Healer spoke but truth.

All know, but one alone

Turns back that gift of God’s great love to own,

His thanks and praise to tell;

Son of Samaria’s race,

In him is seen a fuller, worthier grace,

Than aught in Israel.

And is it not so still?

Are not we slow to own the Mighty Wil’

That works to save and bless?

We, who so much receive,

The speech of joy and praise to others leave,

Whom God endowed with less.

We lose what God has given,

The prize for which our feeble faith has striven,

Because we thank Him not;

Though healed the leprous taint,

Yet still the head is sick and heart is faint;

We crave we know not what.

Wilt thou full health attain,

Let thy heart utter joy’s exulting strain;

To Christ who cleansed thee turn;

Then shalt thou know, at last,

A fuller bliss than all thy unblest past,

High thoughts that cleanse and burn.