With idle hands, by Him unsought,
Her sister sits at rest;
’Twere better sure she rose, and wrought
Some service for their guest.
She feels a wrong. The feeling grows,
As other cares invade:
Strong in her right, at last she goes
To claim her sister’s aid.
Ah, Martha! one day thou like her,
Or here, or far beyond,
Will sit as still, lest, but to stir,
Should break the charmed bond.
She sitteth at the Master’s feet
In motionless employ;
Her ears, her heart, her soul complete
Drinks in the tide of joy.
She is the Earth, and He the Sun;
He shineth forth her leaves;
She, in new life from darkness won,
Gives back what she receives.
Ah! who but she the glory knows
Of life, pure, high, intense;
Whose holy calm breeds awful shows,
Transfiguring the sense!
The life in voice she drinks like wine;
The Word an echo found;
Her ear the world, where Thought divine
Incarnate was in sound.
Her holy eyes, brimful of light,
Shine all unseen and low;
As if the radiant words all night
Forth at those orbs would go.
The opening door reveals a face
Of anxious household state:
“Car’st thou not, Master, for my case,
That I alone should wait?”
Heavy with light, she lifts those eyes
To Him who calmly heard;
Ready that moment to arise,
And go, before the word.
Her fear is banished by his voice,
Her fluttering hope set free:
“The needful thing is Mary’s choice,
She shall remain with me.”
Oh, joy to every doubting heart,
Doing the thing it would,
If He, the Holy, take its part,
And call its choice the good!
Not now as then his words are poured
Into her lonely ears;
But many guests are at the board,
And many tongues she hears.
With sacred foot she cometh slow,
With daring, trembling tread;
With shadowing worship bendeth low
Above the godlike head.
The sacred chrism in snowy stone
A gracious odour sends.
Her little hoard, so slowly grown,
In one full act she spends.
She breaks the box, the honoured thing!
The ointment pours amain;
Her priestly hands anoint her King,
And He shall live and reign.
They called it waste. Ah, easy well!
Their love they could endure;
For her, her heart did ache and swell,
That she forgot the poor.
She meant it for the coming crown;
He took it for the doom;
And his obedience laid Him down,
Crowned in the quiet tomb.
THE WOMAN THAT WAS A SINNER
She washes them with sorrow sweet,
She wipes them with her hair;
Her kisses soothe the weary feet,
To all her kisses bare.