Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century
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Alfred H. Miles, ed.  The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
 
Miscellaneous Poems.
V. “A poor wayfaring man”
By James Montgomery (1771–1854)
 
1826

A POOR wayfaring man of grief
  Hath often cross’d me on my way,
Who sued so humbly for relief,
  That I could never answer, Nay:
I had not power to ask his name,        5
Whither he went, or whence he came,
Yet there was something in his eye
That won my love, I knew not why.
 
Once, when my scanty meal was spread,
  He entered; not a word he spake        10
Just perishing for want of bread;
  I gave him all; he bless’d it, brake,
And ate; but gave me part again:
Mine was an angel’s portion then;
For, while I fed with eager haste,        15
That crust was manna to my taste.
 
I spied him, where a fountain burst
  Clear from the rock; his strength was gone;
The heedless water mocked his thirst,
  He heard it, saw it hurrying on:        20
I ran to raise the sufferer up;
Thrice from the stream he drain’d my cup,
Dipt, and returned it running o’er;
I drank, and never thirsted more.
 
’Twas night; the floods were out; it blew        25
  A winter hurricane aloof;
I heard his voice abroad, and flew
  To bid him welcome to my roof;
I warmed, I clothed, I cheered my guest,
Laid him on my own couch to rest;        30
Then made the hearth my bed, and seem’d
In Eden’s garden while I dream’d.
 
Stript, wounded, beaten, nigh to death,
  I found him by the highway side:
I roused his pulse, brought back his breath,        35
  Revived his spirit, and supplied
Wine, oil, refreshment; he was healed;
I had myself a wound concealed;
But from that hour forgot the smart,
And peace bound up my broken heart.        40
 
In prison I saw him next, condemned
  To meet a traitor’s death at morn;
The tide of lying tongues I stemmed,
  And honoured him midst shame and scorn;
My friendship’s utmost zeal to try,        45
He ask’d, if I for him would die?
The flesh was weak, my blood ran chill;
But the free spirit cried, “I will.”
 
Then in a moment to my view
  The stranger darted from disguise;        50
The tokens in His hands I knew,
  My Saviour stood before mine eyes!
He spake; and my poor name He named:
“Of Me thou hast not been ashamed;
These deeds shall thy memorial be;        55
Fear not; thou didst them unto Me.”
 
 
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