Jesus And John Contending For The Cross
THE CHILD JOHN.
(TRYING TO TAKE THE CROSS OUT OF THE HAND OF JESUS)
Give me the Cross, I pray you, dearest Jesus!
Oh! if you knew how much I wish to have it,
You would not hold it in your hand so tightly:
Something has told me,--something in my heart here,
Which I am sure is true,--that if you keep it,--
If you will let no other take it from you,--
Terrible things, I cannot bear to think of,
Must fall upon you; show me that you love me:
Am I not here to be your little servant,
Follow your steps and wait upon your wishes?
Why may I not take up the heavy plaything,
And on my shoulder carry it behind you?
Then, I am older, stronger too, than you are;
I am a child o' the desert and the mountains;--
Deep i' the waste, I shouted at the wild bees,--
They flew away, and left me all the honey:
Look at the shaggy skin I've tied about me;
Surely, if Pain or any other evil
Somewhere about this mystery be hidden,
I am the fittest of the two to suffer!
THE CHILD JESUS.
(HOLDING THE CROSS FIRMLY.)
Ask me not, my gentle brother,--ask no more, it must not be:
In the heart of this poor trifle lies the secret unrevealed
Which has brought me to this world, and sent you to prepare my way.
In the long and weary woodland, where your path of life will lead,
Thousand, myriad, other Crosses you will find on every side;
And the same eternal Law that bids me take this chiefest one,
Will be there to give you many, grievous as your strength can bear;
But in vain would you and others sink beneath the holy load,
Were I not with mine before you, Captain of the Crucified;
I must be your elder Brother in the heritage of Pain;
I must give you to our Father,--I must fall for you to rise.
(WITH HER HAND ON THE CROSS.)
My soul is weak with doubt,--
What can I think or do?
To which of these dear children shall I yield
The object of their earnest looks and words?
Ah me! I see within
That artless wooden form,
A meaning of exceeding misery,
A dark, dark shadow of oncoming woe.
Oh! give it up, my child!
I see your bright eyes close,
Your soft fair fingers spattered all with blood,
Your cheeks dead pale;--throw down the horrid toy.
He grasps it firmer still!
I dare not thwart his hand;
For what he does, he does not of himself,
But in the Will of Him who sent him here.
And I, who labour blind
In this abysmal work,
Must bear the weight of dumb expectancy,
Of women first in honour and in woe!
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