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: Jerusalem
Christ’s Entrance into Jerusalem
Nathaniel Parker Willis (1806–1867)
 
HE sat upon the ass’s foal and rode
Toward Jerusalem. Beside him walked,
Closely and silently, the faithful twelve,
And on before him went a multitude
Shouting hosannas, and with eager hands        5
Strewing their garments thickly in his way.
The unbroken foal beneath him gently stepped,
Tame as its patient dam; and as the song
Of “Welcome to the Son of David” burst
Forth from a thousand children, and the leaves        10
Of the waved branches touched its silken ears,
It turned its wild eye for a moment back,
And then, subdued by an invisible hand,
Meekly trode onward with its slender feet.
 
The dew’s last sparkle from the grass had gone        15
As he rode up Mount Olivet. The woods
Threw their cool shadows freshly to the west,
And the light foal, with quick and toiling step,
And head bent low, kept its unslackened way
Till its soft mane was lifted by the wind        20
Sent o’er the mount from Jordan. As he reached
The summit’s breezy pitch, the Saviour raised
His calm blue eye,—there stood Jerusalem!
Eagerly he bent forward, and beneath
His mantle’s passive folds, a bolder line        25
Than the wont slightness of his perfect limbs
Betrayed the swelling fulness of his heart.
There stood Jerusalem! How fair she looked,—
The silver sun on all her palaces,
And her fair daughters mid the golden spires        30
Tending their terrace flowers, and Kedron’s stream
Lacing the meadows with its silver band,
And wreathing its mist-mantle on the sky
With the morn’s exhalations. There she stood,—
Jerusalem,—the city of his love,        35
Chosen from all the earth; Jerusalem—
 
That knew him not, and had rejected him;
Jerusalem, for whom he came to die!
The shouts redoubled from a thousand lips
At the fair sight; the children leaped and sang        40
Louder hosannas; the clear air was filled
With odor from the trampled olive-leaves,
But Jesus wept. The loved disciple saw
His Master’s tears, and closer to his side
He came with yearning looks, and on his neck        45
The Saviour leant with heavenly tenderness,
And mourned: “How oft, Jerusalem! would I
Have gathered you, as gathereth a hen
Her brood beneath her wings,—but ye would not!”
 
He thought not of the death that he should die—        50
He thought not of the thorns he knew must pierce
His forehead, of the buffet on the cheek,
The scourge, the mocking homage, the foul scorn!
Gethsemane stood out beneath his eye
Clear in the morning sun, and there, he knew,        55
While they who “could not watch with him one hour”
Were sleeping, he should sweat great drops of blood,
Praying the cup might pass. And Golgotha
Stood bare and desert by the city wall,
And in its midst, to his prophetic eye,        60
Rose the rough cross, and its keen agonies
Were numbered all,—the nails were in his feet,
The insulting sponge was pressing on his lips,
The blood and water gushing from his side,
The dizzy faintness swimming in his brain,        65
And, while his own disciples fled in fear,
A world’s death-agonies all mixed in his!
Ay!—he forgot all this. He only saw
Jerusalem,—the chosen, the loved, the lost!
He only felt that for her sake his life        70
Was vainly given, and in his pitying love
The sufferings that would clothe the heavens in black
Were quite forgotten. Was there ever love,
In earth or heaven, equal unto this?
 
 
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