An Ode on the Suffering Christ

(From The Christian Epic, Chapter 6)

 I sing no noble warrior, fighter brave
 Who stood ablaze to hopeless battle’s fate,
No moral marvel sweeping swords to save
And free the mongrel mass from unjust hate.
     No Hammer of Hasmonean war,
     No brothers on the field of Agincourt…
I sing no honored prophet lifted high
On chariot wings, on Arab warrior songs,
On angel-spoken phrases in the seventh sky
That cast their warning on the unrepentant wrongs.
     No hero ‘gainst the Baal priests,
     No warrior prophet at the Meccan feasts…
I sing no life- and pain-transcending saint
Who stands amused at other masters’ rot,
No pure, untempted wisdom, sorrow’s feint,
All unbesmirched by sense and finite thought.
     No stony vine-wrapped sage,
     No Kshantivadin bearing thoughtless rage…
I sing a suff’ring Son of Man
Who bore a sorrow never human can,
Who felt the chill of cool Gethsemane,
Who knew the scent of olive tree,
Who wept for nail and thorn and tomb
And unimagined sinner’s doom.
     So cried the glorious, uncreated One,
     Who, crushed into the finite, fleshly shell,
     Was crushed again, and, torture done,
     Cried out the more the loneliness of hell.
And this the wonder, clear as needed breath:
This man is God in human life and death.
For God alone could bear the pain,
As God alone could bear His own disdain.
     Come pious ones and pagan, rage anew,
     Unless this tale be strangely, wildly true!

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