Famous forgiveness poems will give you new perspective about life and bring you to forgive yourself as well as others around you. As a guiding light towards emotional freedom and a fresh start, inspirational forgiveness poems will remind you that it’s okay to let go, to release the pain, and to embrace your inner peace.
Table of Contents
Famous Poems About Forgiveness
Forgiveness by George MacDonald
God gives his child upon his slate a sum-
To find eternity in hours and years;
With both sides covered, back the child doth come,
His dim eyes swollen with shed and unshed tears;
God smiles, wipes clean the upper side and nether,
And says, “Now, dear, we’ll do the sum together!”
This Is Just to Say by William Carlos Williams
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold
Do not be ashamed by Wendell Berry
You will be walking some night
in the comfortable dark of your yard
and suddenly a great light will shine
round about you, and behind you
will be a wall you never saw before.
It will be clear to you suddenly
that you were about to escape,
and that you are guilty: you misread
the complex instructions, you are not
a member, you lost your card
or never had one. And you will know
that they have been there all along,
their eyes on your letters and books,
their hands in your pockets,
their ears wired to your bed.
Though you have done nothing shameful,
they will want you to be ashamed.
They will want you to kneel and weep
and say you should have been like them.
And once you say you are ashamed,
reading the page they hold out to you,
then such light as you have made
in your history will leave you.
They will no longer need to pursue you.
You will pursue them, begging forgiveness.
They will not forgive you.
There is no power against them.
It is only candor that is aloof from them,
only an inward clarity, unashamed,
that they cannot reach. Be ready.
When their light has picked you out
and their questions are asked, say to them:
“I am not ashamed.” A sure horizon
will come around you. The heron will begin
his evening flight from the hilltop.
Forgiveness By George William Russell
AT dusk the window panes grew grey;
The wet world vanished in the gloom;
The dim and silver end of day
Scarce glimmered through the little room.
And all my sins were told; I said
Such things to her who knew not sin—
The sharp ache throbbing in my head,
The fever running high within.
I touched with pain her purity;
Sin’s darker sense I could not bring:
My soul was black as night to me;
To her I was a wounded thing.
I needed love no words could say;
She drew me softly nigh her chair,
My head upon her knees to lay,
With cool hands that caressed my hair.
She sat with hands as if to bless,
And looked with grave, ethereal eyes;
Ensouled by ancient Quietness,
A gentle priestess of the Wise.
The Rest by Margaret Atwood
The rest of us watch from beyond the fence
as the woman moves with her jagged stride
into her pain as if into a slow race.
We see her body in motion
but hear no sounds, or we hear
sounds but no language; or we know
it is not a language we know yet.
We can see her clearly
but for her it is running in black smoke.
The cluster of cells in her swelling
like porridge boiling, and bursting,
like grapes, we think.
Or we think of
explosions in mud; but we know nothing.
All around us the trees
and the grasses light up with forgiveness,
so green and at this time
of the year healthy.
We would like to call something
out to her. Some form of cheering.
There is pain but no arrival at anything.
Forgiveness by John Greenleaf Whittier
My heart was heavy, for its trust had been
Abused, its kindness answered with foul wrong;
So, turning gloomily from my fellowmen,
One summer Sabbath day I strolled among
the green mounds of the village burial place;
Where, pondering how all human love and hate
Find one sad level; and how, soon or late,
Wronged and wrong-doer, each with meekened face,
And cold hands folded over a still heart,
Pass the green threshold of our common grave,
Whither all footsteps tend, whence none depart,
Awed for myself, and pitying my race,
Our common sorrow, like a mighty wave,
Swept all my pride away, and trembling I forgave!
Forgiveness by Alfred Austin
Now bury with the dead years conflicts dead
And with fresh days let all begin anew.
Why longer amid shrivelled leaf-drifts tread,
When buds are swelling, flower-sheaths peeping through?
Seen through the vista of the vanished years,
How trivial seem the struggle and the crown,
How vain past feuds, when reconciling tears
Course down the channel worn by vanished frown.
How few mean half the bitterness they speak!
Words more than feelings keep us still apart,
And, in the heat of passion or of pique,
The tongue is far more cruel than the heart.
Since love alone makes it worthwhile to live,
Let all be now forgiven, and forgive.
I thought our joy benumbed for ever By Emile Verhaeren
I thought our joy benumbed for ever, like a sun faded before it was night, on the day that illness with its leaden arms dragged me heavily towards its chair of weariness.
The flowers and the garden were fear or deception to me; my eyes suffered to see the white noons flaming, and my two hands, my hands, seemed, before their time, too tired to hold captive our trembling happiness.
My desires had become no more than evil weeds; they bit at each other like thistles in the wind; I felt my heart to be at once ice and burning coal and of a sudden dried up and stubborn in forgiveness.
But you said the word that gently comforts, seeking it nowhere else than in your immense love; and I lived with the fire of your word, and at night warmed myself at it until the dawn of day.
The diminished man I felt myself to be, both to myself and all others, did not exist for you; you gathered flowers for me from the window-sill, and, with your faith, I believed in health.
And you brought to me, in the folds of your gown, the keen air, the wind of the fields and forests, and the perfumes of evening or the scents of dawn, and, in your fresh and deep-felt kisses, the sun.
Forgive and Forget by Charles Swain
Forgive and forget! why the world would be lonely,
The garden a wilderness left to deform,
If the flowers but remembered the chilling winds only,
And the fields gave no verdure for fear of the storm!
Oh! still in thy loveliness emblem the flower,
Give the fragrance of feeling to sweeten life’s way;
And prolong not again the brief cloud of an hour,
With tears that but darken the rest of the day!
The Lover Asks Forgiveness Because Of His Many Moods by William Butler Yeats
If this importunate heart trouble your peace
With words lighter than air,
Or hopes that in mere hoping flicker and cease;
Crumple the rose in your hair;
And cover your lips with odorous twilight and say,
“O Hearts of wind-blown flame!
O Winds, older than changing of night and day,
That murmuring and longing came
From marble cities loud with tabors of old
In dove-grey faery lands;
From battle-banners, fold upon purple fold,
Queens wrought with glimmering hands;
That saw young Niamh hover with love-lorn face
Above the wandering tide;
And lingered in the hidden desolate place
Where the last Phoenix died,
And wrapped the flames above his holy head;
And still murmur and long:
O piteous Hearts, changing till change be dead
In a tumultuous song’:
And cover the pale blossoms of your breast
With your dim heavy hair,
And trouble with a sigh for all things longing for rest
The odorous twilight there.
Forgiveness by Mary Ann Hanmer Dodd
When the last lesson Jesus taught,
We in our hearts would shrine,
How are we moved with love so deep,
Forgiveness so divine.
We see him nailed upon the cross,
Cold with the dew of death,
Imploring pardon for his foes,
With his fast failing breath.
Sorry by R. S. Thomas
I forgive you my life,
Begotten in a drab town,
The intention was good;
Passing the street now,
I see still the remains of sunlight.
It was not the bone buckled;
You gave me enough food
To renew myself.
It was the mind’s weight
Kept me bent, as I grew tall.
It was not your fault.
What should have gone on,
Arrow aimed from a tried bow
At a tried target, has turned back,
With questions you had not asked.
I think just how my shape will rise by Emily Dickinson
I think just how my shape will rise
When I shall be forgiven,
Till hair and eyes and timid head
Are out of sight, in heaven.
I think just how my lips will weigh
With shapeless, quivering prayer
That you, so late, consider me,
The sparrow of your care.
I mind me that of anguish sent,
Some drifts were moved away
Before my simple bosom broke, —
And why not this, if they?
And so, until delirious borne
I con that thing, — “forgiven,” —
Till with long fright and longer trust
I drop my heart, unshriven!
Pardon Time by John Charles McNeill
Give over now; forbear. The moonlight steeps
In silver silence towered castle-keeps
And cottage crofts, where apples bend the bough.
Peace guards us round, and many a tired heart sleeps.
Let me brush back the shadow from your brow.
Give over now.
On such a night, how sweet, how sweet is life,
Even to the insect piper with his fife!
And must your troubled face still bear the blight
Of strength that runs itself to waste in strife
For love’s own heart should throb through all the light
Of such a night
Long Forgiveness Poems
Rivers of Canada By Bliss William Carman
O all the little rivers that run to Hudson’s Bay,
They call me and call me to follow them away.
Missinaibi, Abitibi, Little Current—whe re they run
Dancing and sparkling I see them in the sun.
I hear the brawling rapid, the thunder of the fall,
And when I think upon them I cannot stay at all.
At the far end of the carry, where the wilderness begins,
Set me down with my canoe-load— and forgiveness of my sins.
O all the mighty rivers beneath the Polar Star,
They call me and call me to follow them afar.
Peace and Athabasca and Coppermine and Slave,
And Yukon and Mackenzie—t he highroads of the brave.
Saskatchewan , Assiniboine, the Bow and the Qu’Appelle,
And many a prairie river whose name is like a spell.
They rumor through the twilight at the edge of the unknown,
“There’s a message waiting for you, and a kingdom all your own.
“The wilderness shall feed you, her gleam shall be your guide.
Come out from desolations, our path of hope is wide.”
O all the headlong rivers that hurry to the West,
They call me and lure me with the joy of their unrest.
Columbia and Fraser and Bear and Kootenay,
I love their fearless reaches where winds untarnished play—
The rush of glacial water across the pebbly bar
To polished pools of azure where the hidden boulders are.
Just there, with heaven smiling, any morning I would be,
Where all the silver rivers go racing to the sea.
O well remembered rivers that sing of long ago,
Ajourneying through summer or dreaming under snow.
Among their meadow islands through placid days they glide,
And where the peaceful orchards are diked against the tide.
Tobique and Madawaska and shining Gaspereaux,
St. Croix and Nashwaak and St. John whose haunts I used to know.
And all the pleasant rivers that seek the Fundy foam,
They call me and call me to follow them home.
The Raven By Edgar Allan Poe
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.”
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Nameless here for evermore.
And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
“’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
This it is and nothing more.”
Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
Darkness there and nothing more.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—
Merely this and nothing more.
Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
’Tis the wind and nothing more!”
Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as “Nevermore.”
But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”
Then the bird said “Nevermore.”
Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”
This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!
Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted—nevermore!
Lazarus By Edwin Arlington Robinson
“No, Mary, there was nothing—not a word.
Nothing, and always nothing. Go again
Yourself, and he may listen—or at least
Look up at you, and let you see his eyes.
I might as well have been the sound of rain,
A wind among the cedars, or a bird;
Or nothing. Mary, make him look at you;
And even if he should say that we are nothing,
To know that you have heard him will be something.
And yet he loved us, and it was for love
The Master gave him back. Why did he wait
So long before he came? Why did he weep?
I thought he would be glad—and Lazarus—
To see us all again as he had left us—
All as it was, all as it was before.”
Mary, who felt her sister’s frightened arms
Like those of someone drowning who had seized her,
Fearing at last they were to fail and sink
Together in this fog-stricken sea of strangeness,
Fought sadly, with bereaved indignant eyes,
To find again the fading shores of home
That she had seen but now could see no longer
Now she could only gaze into the twilight,
And in the dimness know that he was there,
Like someone that was not. He who had been
Their brother, and was dead, now seemed alive
Only in death again—or worse than death;
For tombs at least, always until today,
Though sad were certain. There was nothing certain
For man or God in such a day as this;
For there they were alone, and there was he—
Alone; and somewhere out of Bethany,
The Master—who had come to them so late,
Only for love of them and then so slowly,
And was for their sake hunted now by men
Who feared Him as they feared no other prey—
For the world’s sake was hidden. “Better the tomb
For Lazarus than life, if this be life,”
She thought; and then to Martha, “No, my dear,”
She said aloud; “not as it was before.
Nothing is ever as it was before,
Where Time has been. Here there is more than Time;
And we that are so lonely and so far
From home, since he is with us here again,
Are farther now from him and from ourselves
Than we are from the stars. He will not speak
Until the spirit that is in him speaks;
And we must wait for all we are to know,
Or even to learn that we are not to know.
Martha, we are too near to this for knowledge,
And that is why it is that we must wait.
Our friends are coming if we call for them,
And there are covers we’ll put over him
To make him warmer. We are too young, perhaps,
To say that we know better what is best
Than he. We do not know how old he is.
If you remember what the Master said,
Try to believe that we need have no fear.
Let me, the selfish and the careless one,
Be housewife and a mother for tonight;
For I am not so fearful as you are,
And I was not so eager.”
Down at her sister’s feet and there sat watching
A flower that had a small familiar name
That was as old as memory, but was not
The name of what she saw now in its brief
And infinite mystery that so frightened her
That life became a terror. Tears again
Flooded her eyes and overflowed. “No, Mary,”
She murmured slowly, hating her own words
Before she heard them, “you are not so eager
To see our brother as we see him now;
Neither is he who gave him back to us.
I was to be the simple one, as always,
And this was all for me.” She stared again
Over among the trees where Lazarus,
Who seemed to be a man who was not there,
Might have been one more shadow among shadows,
If she had not remembered. Then she felt
The cool calm hands of Mary on her face,
And shivered, wondering if such hands were real.
“The Master loved you as he loved us all,
Martha; and you are saying only things
That children say when they have had no sleep.
Try somehow now to rest a little while;
You know that I am here, and that our friends
Are coming if I call.”
Martha at last
Arose, and went with Mary to the door,
Where they stood looking off at the same place,
And at the same shape that was always there
As if it would not ever move or speak,
And always would be there. “Mary, go now,
Before the dark that will be coming hides him.
I am afraid of him out there alone,
Unless I see him; and I have forgotten
What sleep is. Go now—make him look at you—
And I shall hear him if he stirs or whispers.
Go!—or I’ll scream and bring all Bethany
To come and make him speak. Make him say once
That he is glad, and God may say the rest.
Though He say I shall sleep, and sleep for ever,
I shall not care for that… Go!”
Almost as if an angry child had pushed her,
Went forward a few steps; and having waited
As long as Martha’s eyes would look at hers,
Went forward a few more, and a few more;
And so, until she came to Lazarus,
Who crouched with his face hidden in his hands,
Like one that had no face. Before she spoke,
Feeling her sister’s eyes that were behind her
As if the door where Martha stood were now
As far from her as Egypt, Mary turned
Once more to see that she was there. Then, softly,
Fearing him not so much as wondering
What his first word might be, said, “Lazarus,
Forgive us if we seemed afraid of you;”
And having spoken, pitied her poor speech
That had so little seeming gladness in it,
So little comfort, and so little love.
There was no sign from him that he had heard,
Or that he knew that she was there, or cared
Whether she spoke to him again or died
There at his feet. “We love you, Lazarus,
And we are not afraid. The Master said
We need not be afraid. Will you not say
To me that you are glad? Look, Lazarus!
Look at my face, and see me. This is Mary.”
She found his hands and held them. They were cool,
Like hers, but they were not so calm as hers.
Through the white robes in which his friends had wrapped him
When he had groped out of that awful sleep,
She felt him trembling and she was afraid.
At last he sighed; and she prayed hungrily
To God that she might hear again the voice
Of Lazarus, whose hands were giving her now
The recognition of a living pressure
That was almost a language. When he spoke,
Only one word that she had waited for
Came from his lips, and that word was her name.
“I heard them saying, Mary, that he wept
Before I woke.” The words were low and shaken,
Yet Mary knew that he who uttered them
Was Lazarus; and that would be enough
Until there should be more… “Who made him come,
That he should weep for me?… Was it you, Mary?”
The questions held in his incredulous eyes
Were more than she would see. She looked away;
But she had felt them and should feel for ever,
She thought, their cold and lonely desperation
That had the bitterness of all cold things
That were not cruel. “I should have wept,” he said,
“If I had been the Master….”
Now she could feel
His hands above her hair—the same black hair
That once he made a jest of, praising it,
While Martha’s busy eyes had left their work
To flash with laughing envy. Nothing of that
Was to be theirs again; and such a thought
Was like the flying by of a quick bird
Seen through a shadowy doorway in the twilight.
For now she felt his hands upon her head,
Like weights of kindness: “I forgive you, Mary….
You did not know—Martha could not have known—
Only the Master knew…. Where is he now?
Yes, I remember. They came after him.
May the good God forgive him…. I forgive him.
I must; and I may know only from him
The burden of all this… Martha was here—
But I was not yet here. She was afraid….
Why did he do it, Mary? Was it—you?
Was it for you?… Where are the friends I saw?
Yes, I remember. They all went away.
I made them go away…. Where is he now?…
What do I see down there? Do I see Martha—
Down by the door?… I must have time for this.”
Lazarus looked about him fearfully,
And then again at Mary, who discovered
Awakening apprehension in his eyes,
And shivered at his feet. All she had feared
Was here; and only in the slow reproach
Of his forgiveness lived his gratitude.
Why had he asked if it was all for her
That he was here? And what had Martha meant?
Why had the Master waited? What was coming
To Lazarus, and to them, that had not come?
What had the Master seen before he came,
That he had come so late?
“Where is he, Mary?”
Lazarus asked again. “Where did he go?”
Once more he gazed about him, and once more
At Mary for an answer. “Have they found him?
Or did he go away because he wished
Never to look into my eyes again?…
That, I could understand…. Where is he, Mary?”
“I do not know,” she said. “Yet in my heart
I know that he is living, as you are living—
Living, and here. He is not far from us.
He will come back to us and find us all—
Lazarus, Martha, Mary—everything—
All as it was before. Martha said that.
And he said we were not to be afraid.”
Lazarus closed his eyes while on his face
A tortured adumbration of a smile
Flickered an instant. “All as it was before,”
He murmured wearily. “Martha said that;
And he said you were not to be afraid …
Not you… Not you… Why should you be afraid?
Give all your little fears, and Martha’s with them,
To me; and I will add them unto mine,
Like a few rain-drops to Gennesaret.”
“If you had frightened me in other ways,
Not willing it,” Mary said, “I should have known
You still for Lazarus. But who is this?
Tell me again that you are Lazarus;
And tell me if the Master gave to you
No sign of a new joy that shall be coming
To this house that he loved. Are you afraid?
Are you afraid, who have felt everything—
But Lazarus only shook his head,
Staring with his bewildered shining eyes
Hard into Mary’s face. “I do not know,
Mary,” he said, after a long time.
“When I came back, I knew the Master’s eyes
Were looking into mine. I looked at his,
And there was more in them than I could see.
At first I could see nothing but his eyes;
Nothing else anywhere was to be seen—
Only his eyes. And they looked into mine—
Long into mine, Mary, as if he knew.”
Mary began to be afraid of words
As she had never been afraid before
Of loneliness or darkness, or of death,
But now she must have more of them or die:
“He cannot know that there is worse than death,”
She said. “And you…”
“Yes, there is worse than death.”
Said Lazarus; “and that was what he knew;
And that is what it was that I could see
This morning in his eyes. I was afraid,
But not as you are. There is worse than death,
Mary; and there is nothing that is good
For you in dying while you are still here.
Mary, never go back to that again.
You would not hear me if I told you more,
For I should say it only in a language
That you are not to learn by going back.
To be a child again is to go forward—
And that is much to know. Many grow old,
And fade, and go away, not knowing how much
That is to know. Mary, the night is coming,
And there will soon be darkness all around you.
Let us go down where Martha waits for us,
And let there be light shining in this house.”
He rose, but Mary would not let him go:
“Martha, when she came back from here, said only
That she heard nothing. And have you no more
For Mary now than you had then for Martha?
Is Nothing, Lazarus, all you have for me?
Was Nothing all you found where you have been?
If that be so, what is there worse than that—
Or better—if that be so? And why should you,
With even our love, go the same dark road over?”
“I could not answer that, if that were so,”
Said Lazarus,—“not even if I were God.
Why should He care whether I came or stayed,
If that were so? Why should the Master weep—
For me, or for the world,—or save himself
Longer for nothing? And if that were so,
Why should a few years’ more mortality
Make him a fugitive where flight were needless,
Had he but held his peace and given his nod
To an old Law that would be new as any?
I cannot say the answer to all that;
Though I may say that he is not afraid,
And that it is not for the joy there is
In serving an eternal Ignorance
Of our futility that he is here.
Is that what you and Martha mean by Nothing?
Is that what you are fearing? If that be so,
There are more weeds than lentils in your garden.
And one whose weeds are laughing at his harvest
May as well have no garden; for not there
Shall he be gleaning the few bits and orts
Of life that are to save him. For my part,
I am again with you, here among shadows
That will not always be so dark as this;
Though now I see there’s yet an evil in me
That made me let you be afraid of me.
No, I was not afraid—not even of life.
I thought I was…I must have time for this;
And all the time there is will not be long.
I cannot tell you what the Master saw
This morning in my eyes. I do not know.
I cannot yet say how far I have gone,
Or why it is that I am here again,
Or where the old road leads. I do not know.
I know that when I did come back, I saw
His eyes again among the trees and faces—
Only his eyes; and they looked into mine—
Long into mine—long, long, as if he knew.”