Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. IV. The Higher Life
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume IV. The Higher Life.  1904.
 
I. The Divine Element—(God, Christ, the Holy Spirit)
Myrrh-Bearers
Margaret Junkin Preston (1820–1897)
 
THREE women crept at break of day
A-grope along the shadowy way
Where Joseph’s tomb and garden lay.
 
With blanch of woe each face was white,
As the gray Orient’s waxing light        5
Brought back upon their awe-struck sight
 
The sixth-day scene of anguish. Fast
The starkly standing cross they passed,
And, breathless, neared the gate at last.
 
Each on her throbbing bosom bore        10
A burden of such fragrant store
As never there had lain before.
 
Spices, the purest, richest, best,
That e’er the musky East possessed,
From Ind to Araby-the-Blest,        15
 
Had they with sorrow-riven hearts
Searched all Jerusalem’s costliest marts
In quest of,—nards whose pungent arts
 
Should the dead sepulchre imbue
With vital odors through and through:        20
’T was all their love had leave to do!
 
Christ did not need their gifts; and yet
Did either Mary once regret
Her offering? Did Salome fret
 
Over the unused aloes? Nay!        25
They counted not as waste, that day,
What they had brought their Lord. The way
 
Home seemed the path to heaven. They bare,
Thenceforth, about the robes they ware
The clinging perfume everywhere.        30
 
So, ministering as erst did these,
Go women forth by twos and threes
(Unmindful of their morning ease),
 
Through tragic darkness, murk and dim,
Where’er they see the faintest rim,        35
Of promise,—all for sake of him
 
Who rose from Joseph’s tomb. They hold
It just such joy as those of old,
To tell the tale the Marys told.
 
Myrrh-bearers 1 still,—at home, abroad,        40
What paths have holy women trod,
Burdened with votive gifts for God,—
 
Rare gifts whose chiefest worth was priced
By this one thought, that all sufficed:
Their spices had been bruised for Christ!        45
 
Note 1. Myrophores, a name given to the Marys, in Greek Christian art. [back]
 
 
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