Good Friday Night

AT last the bird that sang so long
In twilight circles hushed his song;
Above the ancient square
The stars came here and there.
Good Friday night ! Some hearts were bowed,
But some within the waiting crowd,
Because of too much youth,
Felt not that mystic ruth ;
And of these hearts my heart was one:
Nor when beneath the arch of stone,
With dirge and candle-flame,
The cross of Passion came,
Did my glad being feel reproof;
Though on the awful tree aloof,
Unspiritual, dead,
Drooped the ensanguined Head.
To one who stood where myrtles made
A little space of deeper shade
(As I could half descry,
A stranger, even as I),
I said: “These youths who bear along
The symbols of their Saviour’s wrong, —
The spear, the garment torn,
The flagel, and the thorn, —
“ Why do they make this mummery ?
Would not a brave man gladly die
For a much smaller thing
Than to be Christ and king?”
He answered nothing, and I turned :
Throned ’mid its hundred candles, burned
The jeweled eidolon
Of her who bore the Son.
The crowd was prostrate; still, I felt
No shame until the stranger knelt ;
Then not to kneel, almost
Seemed like a vulgar boast.
I knelt: the idol’s waxen stare
Grew soft and speaking; slowly there
Dawned the dear mortal grace
Of my own mother’s face.
When we were risen up, the street
Was vacant; all the air hung sweet
With lemon flowers ; and soon
The sky would hold the moon.
More silently than new-found friends,
To whom much silence makes amends
For the much babble vain
While yet their lives were twain,
We walked toward the odorous hill.
The light was little yet; his will
I could not see to trace
Upon his form or face.
So when aloft the gold moon broke,
I cried, heart-stung. As one who woke
He turned unto my cries
The anguish of his eyes.
“ Friend! Master ! ” I said falteringly,
“Thou seest the thing they make of thee !
But by the light divine
My mother shares with thine,
“ I beg that I may lay my head
Upon thy shoulder, and be fed
With thoughts of brotherhood! ”
So, through the odorous wood,
More silently than friends new-found
We walked. At the last orchard bound,
His figure ashen-stoled
Sank in the moon’s broad gold.
William Vaughn Moody.