Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Asia
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Asia: Vols. XXI–XXIII.  1876–79.
 
Syria: Gethsemane
Scene in Gethsemane
Nathaniel Parker Willis (1806–1867)
 
THE MOON was shining yet. The Orient’s brow,
Set with the morning-star, was not yet dim;
And the deep silence which subdues the breath
Like a strong feeling, hung upon the world
As sleep upon the pulses of a child.        5
’T was the last watch of night. Gethsemane,
With its bathed leaves of silver, seemed dissolved
In visible stillness; and as Jesus’ voice,
With its bewildering sweetness, met the ear
Of his disciples, it vibrated on        10
Like the first whisper in a silent world.
They came on slowly. Heaviness oppressed
The Saviour’s heart, and when the kindnesses
Of his deep love were poured, he felt the need
Of near communion, for his gift of strength        15
Was wasted by the spirit’s weariness.
He left them there, and went a little on,
And in the depth of that hushed silentness,
Alone with God, he fell upon his face,
And as his heart was broken with the rush        20
Of his surpassing agony, and death,
Wrung to him from a dying universe,
Was mightier than the Son of man could bear,
He gave his sorrows way,—and in the deep
Prostration of his soul, breathed out the prayer,        25
“Father, if it be possible with thee,
Let this cup pass from me.” O, how a word,
Like the forced drop before the fountain breaks,
Stilleth the press of human agony!
The Saviour felt its quiet in his soul;        30
And though his strength was weakness, and the light
Which led him on till now was sorely dim,
He breathed a now submission. “Not my will,
But thine be done, O Father!” As he spoke,
Voices were heard in heaven, and music stole        35
Out from the chambers of the vaulted sky
As if the stars were swept like instruments.
No cloud was visible, but radiant wings
Were coming with a silvery rush to earth,
And as the Saviour rose, a glorious one,        40
With an illumined forehead, and the light
Whose fountain is the mystery of God,
Encalmed within his eye, bowed down to him,
And nerved him with a ministry of strength.
It was enough,—and with his godlike brow        45
Rewritten of his Father’s messenger,
With meekness, whose divinity is more
Than power and glory, he returned again
To his disciples, and awaked their sleep,
For he that should betray him was at hand.        50
 
 
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