Verse > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow > Complete Poetical Works
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882).  Complete Poetical Works.  1893.
 
Christus: A Mystery
Part III. The New England Tragedies.
John Endicott.
Prologue
 
        
DRAMATIS PERSONÆ
  
JOHN ENDICOTT,  Governor.
JOHN ENDICOTT,  His son.
RICHARD BELLINGHAM,  Deputy Governor.
JOHN NORTON,  Minister of the Gospel.
EDWARD BUTTER,  Treasurer.
WALTER MERRY,  Tithing-man.
NICHOLAS UPSALL,  An old citizen.
SAMUEL COLE,  Landlord of the Three Mariners.
SIMON KEMPTHORN,
RALPH GOLDSMITH,  Sea-Captains.
WENLOCK CHRISTISON;
EDITH, his daughter;
EDWARD WHARTON,  Quakers.

Assistants, Halberdiers, Marshal, etc.

The Scene is in Boston in the year 1665.

TO-NIGHT we strive to read, as we may best,
This city, like an ancient palimpsest;
And bring to light, upon the blotted page,
The mournful record of an earlier age,
That, pale and half effaced, lies hidden away        5
Beneath the fresher writing of to-day.
 
Rise, then, O buried city that hast been;
Rise up, rebuilded in the painted scene,
And let our curious eyes behold once more
The pointed gable and the pent-house door,        10
The Meeting-house with leaden-latticed panes,
The narrow thoroughfares, the crooked lanes!
 
Rise, too, ye shapes and shadows of the Past,
Rise from your long-forgotten graves at last;
Let us behold your faces, let us hear        15
The words ye uttered in those days of fear!
Revisit your familiar haunts again,—
The scenes of triumph, and the scenes of pain,
And leave the footprints of your bleeding feet
Once more upon the pavement of the street!        20
 
Nor let the Historian blame the Poet here,
If he perchance misdate the day or year,
And group events together, by his art,
That in the Chronicles lie far apart;
For as the double stars, though sundered far,        25
Seem to the naked eye a single star,
So facts of history, at a distance seen,
Into one common point of light convene.
 
“Why touch upon such themes?” perhaps some friend
May ask, incredulous; “and to what good end?        30
Why drag again into the light of day
The errors of an age long passed away?”
I answer: “For the lesson that they teach:
The tolerance of opinion and of speech.
Hope, Faith, and Charity remain,—these three;        35
And greatest of them all is Charity.”
 
Let us remember, if these words be true,
That unto all men Charity is due;
Give what we ask; and pity, while we blame,
Lest we become copartners in the shame,        40
Lest we condemn, and yet ourselves partake,
And persecute the dead for conscience’ sake.
 
Therefore it is the author seeks and strives
To represent the dead as in their lives,
And lets at times his characters unfold        45
Their thoughts in their own language, strong and bold;
He only asks of you to do the like;
To hear him first, and, if you will, then strike.
 
 
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