There is a spot within this sacred dale
That felt Thee kneeling—touched Thy prostrate brow:
One Angel knows it. O might prayer avail
To win that knowledge! sure each holy vow
Less quickly from the unstable soul would fade,
Offered where Christ in agony was laid.
Might tear of ours once mingle with the blood
That from His aching brow by moonlight fell,
Over the mournful joy our thoughts would brood,
Till they had framed within a guardian spell
To chase repining fancies, as they rise,
Like birds of evil wing, to mar our sacrifice.
So dreams the heart self-flattering, fondly dreams;
Else wherefore, when the bitter waves o’erflow,
Miss we the light, Gethsemane, that streams
From thy dear name, where in His page of woe
It shines, a pale kind star in winter’s sky?
Who vainly reads it there, in vain had seen Him die.
They gave Him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but He received in not. St. Mark xv. 23.
“Fill high the bowl, and spice it well, and
The dews oblivious: for the Cross is sharp,
The Cross is sharp, and He
Is tenderer than a lamb.
“He wept by Lazarus’ grave—how
will He bear
This bed of anguish? and His pale weak form
Is worn with many a watch
Of sorrow and unrest.
“His sweat last night was as great drops of
And the sad burthen pressed Him so to earth,
The very torturers paused
To help Him on His way.
“Fill high the bowl, benumb His aching sense
With medicined sleep.”—O awful in Thy woe!
The parching thirst of death
Is on Thee, and Thou triest
The slumb’rous potion bland, and wilt not drink:
Not sullen, nor in scorn, like haughty man
With suicidal hand
Putting his solace by:
But as at first Thine all-pervading look
Saw from Thy Father’s bosom to the abyss
Measuring in calm presage
The infinite descent;
So to the end, though now of mortal pangs
Made heir, and emptied of Thy glory, awhile,
With unaverted eye
Thou meetest all the storm.
Thou wilt feel all, that Thou mayst pity all;
And rather wouldst Thou wreathe with strong pain,
Than overcloud Thy soul,
So clear in agony,
Or lose one glimpse of Heaven before the time
O most entire and perfect sacrifice,
Renewed in every pulse
That on the tedious Cross
Told the long hours of death, as, one by one,
The life-strings of that tender heart gave way;
E’en sinners, taught by Thee,
Look Sorrow in the face,
And bid her freely welcome, unbeguiled
By false kind solaces, and spells of earth:-
And yet not all unsoothed;
For when was Joy so dear,
As the deep calm that breathed, “Father, forgive,”
Or, “Be with Me in Paradise to-day?”
And, though the strife be sore,
Yet in His parting breath