Verse > Anthologies > W. Garrett Horder, ed. > The Poets’ Bible: New Testament
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W. Garrett Horder, comp.  The Poets’ Bible: New Testament.  1895.
 
Christ in the Sepulchre
John Keble (1792–1866)
 
“As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.”—ZECH. IX. 11.

  AT length the worst is o’er, and Thou art laid
    Deep in Thy darksome bed:
  All still and cold beneath yon dreary stone
    Thy sacred form is gone;
  Around those lips where power and mercy hung,        5
    The dews of death have clung;
  The dull earth o’er Thee, and Thy foes around,
Thou sleep’st a silent corse, in funeral fetters wound.
 
  Sleep’st Thou indeed? or is Thy spirit fled,
    At large among the dead?        10
  Whether in Eden bowers Thy welcome voice
    Wake Abraham to rejoice,
  Or in some drearier scene Thine eye controls
    The thronging band of souls;
  That, as Thy blood won earth, Thine agony        15
Might set the shadowy realm from sin and sorrow free.
 
  Where’er Thou roam’st, one happy soul, we know,
    Seen at Thy side in woe 1
  Waits on Thy triumph—even as all the blest
    With him and Thee shall rest.        20
  Each on his cross, by Thee we hang a while,
    Watching Thy patient smile,
  Till we have learned to say, “’Tis justly done,
Only in glory, Lord, Thy sinful servant own.”
 
  Soon wilt Thou take us to Thy tranquil bower        25
    To rest one little hour,
  Till thine elect are numbered, and the grave
    Call Thee to come and save:
  Then on Thy bosom borne shall we descend,
    Again with earth to blend,        30
  Earth all refin’d with bright supernal fires,
Tinctur’d with holy blood, and wing’d with pure desires.
 
  Meanwhile with every son and saint of Thine
    Along the glorious line,
  Sitting by turns beneath Thy sacred feet        35
    We’ll hold communion sweet,
  Know them by look and voice, and thank them all
    For helping us in thrall,
  For words of hope, and bright examples given
To show through moonless skies that there is light in heaven.        40
 
  O come that day, when in this restless heart
    Earth shall resign her part,
  When in the grave with Thee my limbs shall rest,
    My soul with Thee be blest!
  But stay, presumptuous—Christ with thee abides        45
    In the rock’s dreary sides:
  He from the stone will wring celestial dew
If but the prisoner’s heart be faithful found and true.
 
  When tears are spent, and thou art left alone
    With ghosts of blessings gone,        50
  Think thou art taken from the Cross, and laid
    In Jesus’ burial shade;
  Take Moses’ rod, the rod of prayer, and call
    Out of the rocky wall
  The fount of holy blood: and lift on high        55
Thy grovelling soul that feels so desolate and dry.
 
  Prisoner of Hope thou art 2—look up and sing
    In hope of promis’d spring.
  As in the pit his father’s darling lay
    Beside the desert way        60
  And knew not how, but knew his God would save
    E’en from that living grave,
  So buried with our Lord, will close our eyes
To the decaying world, till Angels bid us rise.
 
Note 1. Luke xxiii. 43. [back]
Note 2. Zechariah ix. 12.—“Turn ye to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope.” [back]
 
 
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