A Crucifix

A gothic church. At one end of an aisle,
Against a wall where mystic sunbeams smile
Through painted windows, orange, blue, and gold,
The Christ's unutterable charm behold.
Upon the cross, adorned with gold and green,
Long fluted golden tongues of sombre sheen,
Like four flames joined in one, around the head
And by the outstretched arms, their glory spread.
The statue is of wood; of natural size;
Tinted; one almost sees before one's eyes
The last convulsion of the lingering breath.
“Behold the man!” Robust and frail. Beneath
That breast indeed might throb the Sacred Heart.
And from the lips, so holily dispart,
The dying murmur breathes “Forgive! Forgive!”
O wide-stretched arms! “I perish, let them live.”
Under the torture of the thorny crown,
The loving pallor of the brow looks down.
On human blindness, on the toiler's woes;
The while, to overturn Despair's repose,
And urge to Hope and Love, as Faith demands,
Bleed, bleed the feet, the broken side, the hands.
A poet, painter, Christian,—it was a friend
Of mine—his attributes most fitly blend—
Who saw this marvel, and made an exquisite
Copy; and, knowing how I worshipped it,
Forgot it, in my room, by accident.
I write these verses in acknowledgment.
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