Verse > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow > Complete Poetical Works
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882).  Complete Poetical Works.  1893.
 
Christus: A Mystery
Part I. The Divine Tragedy.
The Third Passover.
VII. Barabbas in Prison
 
BARABBAS, to his fellow-prisoners.
BARABBAS is my name,
Barabbas, the Son of Shame,
  Is the meaning I suppose;
I ’m no better than the best,
And whether worse than the rest        5
  Of my fellow-men, who knows?
 
I was once, to say it in brief,
A highwayman, a robber-chief,
  In the open light of day.
So much I am free to confess;        10
But all men, more or less,
  Are robbers in their way.
 
From my cavern in the crags,
From my lair of leaves and flags,
  I could see, like ants, below,        15
The camels with their load
Of merchandise, on the road
  That leadeth to Jericho.
 
And I struck them unaware,
As an eagle from the air        20
  Drops down upon bird or beast;
And I had my heart’s desire
Of the merchants of Sidon and Tyre
  And Damascus and the East.
 
But it is not for that I fear;        25
It is not for that I am here
  In these iron fetters bound;
Sedition! that is the word
That Pontius Pilate heard,
  And he liketh not the sound.        30
 
What think ye, would he care
For a Jew slain here or there,
  Or a plundered caravan?
But Cæsar!—ah, that is a crime,
To the uttermost end of time        35
  Shall not be forgiven to man.
 
Therefore was Herod wroth
With Matthias Margaloth,
  And burned him for a show!
Therefore his wrath did smite        40
Judas the Gaulonite,
  And his followers, as ye know.
 
For that cause and no more,
Am I here, as I said before;
  For one unlucky night,        45
Jucundus, the captain of horse,
Was upon us with all his force,
  And I was caught in the fight.
 
I might have fled with the rest,
But my dagger was in the breast        50
  Of a Roman equerry;
As we rolled there in the street,
They bound me, hands and feet;
  And this is the end of me.
 
Who cares for death? Not I!        55
A thousand times I would die,
  Rather than suffer wrong!
Already those women of mine
Are mixing the myrrh and the wine
  I shall not be with you long.        60
 
 
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