Слике страница
PDF
ePub

A DEATH IN THE DESERT.

SUPPOSED of Pamphylax the Antiochene: It is a parchment, of my rolls the fifth, Hath three skins glued together, is all Greek, And goeth from Epsilon down to Mu: Lies second in the surnamed Chosen Chest, Stained and conserved with juice of terebinth, Covered with cloth of hair, and lettered Xi, From Xanthus, my wife's uncle, now at peace : Mu and Epsilon stand for my own name, I may not write it, but I make a cross To show I wait His coming, with the rest, And leave off here: beginneth Pamphylax.]

I said, “If one should wet his lips with wine,
And slip the broadest plantain-leaf we find,
Or else the lappet of a linen robe,
Into the water-vessel, lay it right,
And cool his forehead just above the eyes,
The while a brother, kneeling either side,
Should chafe each hand and try to make it warm,-
He is not so far gone but he might speak.”

This did not happen in the outer cave,
Nor in the secret chamber of the rock,
Where, sixty days since the decree was out,
We had him, bedded on a camel-skin,
And waited for his dying all the while ;
But in the midmost grotto: since noon's light
Reached there a little, and we would not lose
The last of what might happen on his face.

I at the head, and Xanthus at the feet,
With Valens and the Boy, had lifted him,
And brought him from the chamber in the depths,
And laid him in the light where we might see:
For certain smiles began about his mouth,
And his lids moved, presageful of the end.

Beyond, and half way up the mouth o' the cave, The Bactrian convert, having his desire,

Kept watch, and made pretence to graze a goat
That gave us milk, on rags of various herb,
Plantain and quitch, the rocks’ shade keeps alive:
So that if any thief or soldier passed,
(Because the persecution was aware)
Yielding the goat up promptly with his life,
Such man might pass on, joyful at a prize,
Nor care to pry into the cool o’the cave.
Outside was all noon and the burning blue.

d Xanthus,—dropped a drop; I stooped and placed the lap of cloth aright, Then chafed his right hand, and the Boy his left: But Valens had bethought him, and produced And broke a ball of nard, and made perfume. Only, he did not so much wake, as-turn And smile a little, as a sleeper does · If any dear one call him, touch his face

And smiles and loves, but will not be disturbed.

Then Xanthus said a prayer, but still he slept :
It is the Xanthus that escaped to Rome,
Was burned, and could not write the chronicle.

Then the Boy sprang up from his knees, and ran, < Stung by the splendour of a sudden thought,

And fetched the seventh plate of graven lead
Out of the secret chamber, found a place,
Pressing with finger on the deeper dints,
And spoke, as 'twere his mouth proclaiming first,
“I am the Resurrection and the Life.”

Whereat he opened his eyes wide at once,
And sat up of himself, and looked at us ;
And thenceforth nobody pronounced a word:
Only, outside, the Bactrian cried his cry
Like the lone desert-bird that wears the ruff,
As signal we were safe, from time to time.

First he said, “If a friend declared to me,
This my son Valens, this my other son,
Were James and Peter,—nay, declared as well
This lad was very John,-I could believe !
-Could, for a moment, doubtlessly believe:
So is myself withdrawn into my depths, .
The soul retreated from the perished brain
Whence it was wont to feel and use the world
* Through these dull members, done with long ago.

Yet I myself remain ; I feel myself:
And there is nothing lost. Let be, awhile !"

[This is the doctrine he was wont to teach, How divers persons witness in each man,

« ПретходнаНастави »