“Of the sinless saved the tale is told,—
Read in the Book where it is said:
When Jesus walked, among men of old,
The people a passage to Him made;
Bringing their bairns for Him to hold,
For the blessing of His hand they prayed.
The twelve reproved them: ’Overbold
To seek the Master;’ and sternly stayed.
But Jesus said: ’Be ye not afraid;
Suffer the children, nor prevent;
God’s kingdom is for such arrayed.’
Surely saved are the innocent.”
“Christ called to Him the innocents mild,
And said His kingdom no man might win,
Unless he came thither as a child,—Not
otherwise might he enter in,
Harmless, faithful, undefiled,
With never a spot of soiling sin,—For
these whom the world has not beguiled
Gladly shall one the gate unpin.
There shall that endless bliss begin,
The merchant sought, and straight was led
To barter all stuffs men weave and spin,
To buy him a pearl unblemished.”
“’This pearl unblemished, bought so dear,
For which the merchant his riches gave,
Is like the kingdom of heaven clear;’
So said the Father of world and wave.
It is a flawless, perfect sphere,
Polished and pure, and bright and brave;
As on my heart it doth appear,
It is common to all who to virtue clave.
My Lord, the Lamb Who died to save,
Here set it in token of His blood shed
For peace. Then let the wild world rave,
But buy thee this pearl unblemished.”
“O Pearl unblemished, in pure pearls dressed,
That beareth,” said I, “the pearl of price,
Who formed thy figure-and thy vest?
Truly he wrought with cunning nice;
For thy beauty, above nature’s best,
Passeth Pygmalion’s artifice;
Nor Aristotle the lore possessed
To depict in words so fair device.
Than fleur-de-lys thou art fairer thrice,
Angel-mannered and courtly bred,—
Tell to me truly: in Paradise
What meaneth the pearl unblemished?”
“My spotless Lamb, who all doth heal,”
She answered, “my dear Destiny,
Chose me in marriage bond to seal;
Unfit, He graced me regally,
From your world’s woe come into weal.
He called me of His courtesy:
’Come hither to me, my lover leal,
For mote nor spot is none in thee.’
He gave me my might and great beauty;
He washed my weeds in His blood so red,
And crowned me, forever clean to be,
And clothed me in pearls unblemished.”
“Unblemished bride, bright to behold,
That royalty hath so rich and rare,
What is this Lamb, that thou hast told
How for wedded wife He called thee there?
Above all others dost thou make bold,
As His chosen lady His life to share?
So many, comely in combs of gold,
For Christ have lived in strife and care,
Must these to a lower place repair,
That never any with Him may wed,
Save only thyself, so proud and fair,
Peerless Queen, and unblemished?”