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Concerning Jesus [Sonnets]
by [?]


For three and thirty years, a living seed,
A lonely germ, dropt on our waste world’s side,
Thy death and rising thou didst calmly bide;
Sore companied by many a clinging weed
Sprung from the fallow soil of evil and need;
Hither and thither tossed, by friends denied;
Pitied of goodness dull, and scorned of pride;
Until at length was done the awful deed,
And thou didst lie outworn in stony bower
Three days asleep–oh, slumber godlike-brief
For man of sorrows and acquaint with grief!
Life-seed thou diedst, that Death might lose his power,
And thou, with rooted stem and shadowy leaf,
Rise, of humanity the crimson flower.


Where dim the ethereal eye, no art, though clear
As golden star in morning’s amber springs,
Can pierce the fogs of low imaginings:
Painting and sculpture are a mockery mere.
Where dull to deafness is the hearing ear,
Vain is the poet. Nought but earthly things
Have credence. When the soaring skylark sings
How shall the stony statue strain to hear?
Open the deaf ear, wake the sleeping eye,
And Lo, musicians, painters, poets–all
Trooping instinctive, come without a call!
As winds that where they list blow evermore;
As waves from silent deserts roll to die
In mighty voices on the peopled shore.


Our ears thou openedst; mad’st our eyes to see.
All they who work in stone or colour fair,
Or build up temples of the quarried air,
Which we call music, scholars are of thee.
Henceforth in might of such, the earth shall be
Truth’s temple-theatre, where she shall wear
All forms of revelation, all men bear
Tapers in acolyte humility.
O master-maker, thy exultant art
Goes forth in making makers! Pictures? No,
But painters, who in love and truth shall show
Glad secrets from thy God’s rejoicing heart.
Sudden, green grass and waving corn up start
When through dead sands thy living waters go.


From the beginning good and fair are one,
But men the beauty from the truth will part,
And, though the truth is ever beauty’s heart,
After the beauty will, short-breathed, run,
And the indwelling truth deny and shun.
Therefore, in cottage, synagogue, and mart,
Thy thoughts came forth in common speech, not art;
With voice and eye, in Jewish Babylon,
Thou taughtest–not with pen or carved stone,
Nor in thy hand the trembling wires didst take:
Thou of the truth not less than all wouldst make;
For Truth’s sake even her forms thou didst disown:
Ere, through the love of beauty, truth shall fail,
The light behind shall burn the broidered veil!


Holy of holies, my bare feet draw nigh:
Jesus, thy body is the shining veil
By which I look on God, nor grow death-pale.
I know that in my verses poor may lie
Things low, for see, the thinker is not high!
But were my song as loud as saints’ all-hail,
As pure as prophet’s cry of warning wail,
As holy as thy mother’s ecstasy–
He sings a better, who, for love or ruth,
Into his heart a little child doth take.
Nor thoughts nor feelings, art nor wisdom seal
The man who at thy table bread shall break.
Thy praise was not that thou didst know, or feel,
Or show, or love, but that thou didst the truth.


Despised! Rejected by the priest-led roar
Of the multitude! The imperial purple flung
About the form the hissing scourge had stung,
Witnessing naked to the truth it bore!
True son of father true, I thee adore.
Even the mocking purple truthful hung
On thy true shoulders, bleeding its folds among,
For thou wast king, art king for evermore!
I know the Father: he knows me the truth.
Truth-witness, therefore the one essential king,
With thee I die, with thee live worshipping!
O human God, O brother, eldest born,
Never but thee was there a man in sooth,
Never a true crown but thy crown of thorn!