POETRY: Crucifixion by John Greenleaf Whittier

Crucifixion John Greenleaf Whittier

Sunlight upon Judah’s hills!
And light on the waves of Galilee;
On Jordan’s stream, and on the rills
The feed the dead and sleeping sea!
Most freshly from the green wood springs
The light breeze on its scented wings;
And gayly quiver in the sun
The ceder tops of Lebanon!

A few more hours, —a change hath come!
The sky is dark without a cloud!
The shouts of wrath and joy are dumb,
And proud knees unto earth are bowed!
A change is on the hill of Death,
The helmed watchers pant for breath.
And turn with wild and maniac eyes
From the dark scene of sacrifice!

That Sacrifice! —the death of Him, —
The Christ of God, the holy One!
Well may the conscious Heaven grow dim,
And blacken the beholding Sun.
The wonted light hath fled away
Night settles on the middle day,
And earthquake from his caverned bed
Is waking with a thrill of dread!

The dead are walking underneath!
Their prison door is rent away!
And, ghastly with the seal of death,
They wander in the eye of day!
The temple of the Cherubim,
The house of God is cold and dim;
A curse is on its trembling wall,
Its mighty veil asunder falls!

Well may the cavern-depths of Earth
Be shaken and her mountains nod;
Well may the sheeted dead come forth
To see the suffering son of God!
Well may the temple-shrine grow dim,
And shadows veil the Cherubim,
When He, the chosen one of Heaven,
A sacrifice for guilt is given!

And shall the sinful heart, alone,
Behold unmoved the fearful hour,
When nature trembled on her throne,
And Death resigned his iron power?
Oh, shall the heart—whose sinfulness
Gave keenness to His sore distress,
And added to His tears of blood—
Refuse its trembling gratitude?

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