Martha Foote Crow.

Christ in the poetry of today; an anthology from American poets online

. (page 1 of 8)
Online LibraryMartha Foote CrowChrist in the poetry of today; an anthology from American poets → online text (page 1 of 8)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

A \"









Copyright, 1917, by

The National Board of the Young Womens Christian Associations

of the United States of America

600 Lexington Avenue

New York City

We place Thy sacred name upon our browc;

Our cycles from Thy natal day we score:
Yet, spite of all our songs and all our vows,

We thirst and ever thirst to know Thee mere.

For Thou art Mystery and Question still;

Even when we see Thee lifted as a sign
Drawing all men unto that hapless hill

With the resistless power of Love Divine.

Still Thou art Question while rings in our ears
Thine outcry to a world discord-beset:

Have I been with thee all these many years,
World, dost thou not know ME even yet?
















THE copyright of this book does not carry with it the
ownership of the separate poems. These remain the
possession of the original owners, who have been good
enough to allow the use of them in this anthology.
For such use the compiler extends thanks to all the
publishers, periodicals, and poets who have thus made
the collection possible.

Acknowledgments are here made to the many
publishers who have allowed quotations from volumes
published by them:

For permission to use a selection from Poems, by
Meredith Nicholson, copyright, 1906, used by special
permission of the publishers, the Bobbs-Merrill Com

To Mr. E. B. Brooks, publisher, for permission to
use a poem called "The Madonna of the Carpenter
Shop, " from The Lark Went Singing, by Ruth Guthrie

To the Century Company for permission to use
poems from Collected Plays and Poems, by Cale Young

To the Thomas Y. Crowell Company for permission
to quote from America the Beautiful and Other Poems,
by Katharine Lee Bates, and from Poems, by Sophie

To the George H. Doran Company for permission
to quote from The Roadside Fire, copyright, 1912, and

Life and Living, copyright, 1916, by Amelia Josephine
Burr; and from Trees and Other Poems, copyright, 1914,
by Joyce Kilmer.

To Messrs. Doubleday, Page & Company for per
mission to quote from The Shoes of Happiness and
Other Poems and from Lincoln and Other Poems, by
Edwin Markham.

To Messrs. Duffield & Company for permission to
quote from The Frozen Grail and Other Poems, by Elsa

To Messrs. Henry Holt & Company for selections
from Chicago Poems, by Carl Sandburg.

To the Hough ton Mifflin Company for selections
from Poems and Poetic Dramas, by William Vaughn
Moody; Complete Poems, by Richard Watson Gilder;
Poems, by Florence Earle Coates; The Heart of the
Road, by Anna Hempstead Branch; Songs of America
and Other Poems, by Edna Dean Proctor; In the High
Hills, by Maxwell Struthers Burt; A Brief Pilgrimage
in the Holy Land and A Scallop Shell of Quiet, by
Caroline Hazard; Happy Ending, by Louise Imogen
Guiney; and Songs of Sunrise Lands, by Clinton

To Mr. B. W. Huebsch, publisher, for a selection
from The Free Spirit, by Henry Bryan Binns.

To the Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Company for selec
tions from Lyrics of Brotherhood, by Richard Burton.

To Mr. David McKay, publisher, for a selection
from Madrigali, by T. A. Daly.

To Mr. Mitchell Kennerley for selections from The
Earth Cry, by Theodosia Garrison; from The Cry of
Youth, by Harry Kemp; and from The Jew to Jesus
and Other Poems, by Florence Kiper Frank.

To the Macmillan Company for selections from

Poems, by G. E. Woodberry; from You and I, by
Harriet Monroe; from Rivers to the Sea, by Sara Teas-
dale; from The Great Valley, by Edgar Lee Masters; and
from The Pilgrim Kings, by Thomas Walsh.

To Messrs. A. C. McClurg & Company for a selec
tion from Phidias and Other Poems, by Frank W. Gun-

To Mr. Thomas B. Mosher, publisher, for selections
from A Wayside Lute, by Lizette Woodworth Reese.

To Messrs. G. P. Putnam s Sons for selections from
Fresh Fields and Legends Old and New, by Sarah J. Day.

To the Fleming H. Re veil Company for selections
from The Empire of Love, by W. J. Dawson.

To Messrs. Charles Scribner s Sons for selections
from The Children of the Night, by Edwin Arlington
Robinson; Poems (copyright, 1911, by Charles Scrib
ner s Sons), by Henry van Dyke; and Poems, by
Sidney Lanier.

To Messrs. Seymour, Doughaday & Company for
selections from Lyrics of a Lad, by Scharmel Iris.

To Messrs. Sherman, French & Company for selec
tions from The Wayside Shrine, by Martha E. Pettus;
A Vanished World, by Douglas Duer; The Border of
the Lake, by Agnes Lee; and The Beloved Adventure, by
John Hall Wheelock.

To Messrs. Small, Maynard & Company for selec
tions from Provenga, by Ezra Pound; and from Poems,
by J. B. Tabb.

To the Stewart & Kidd Company for a selection
from The Man Sings (copyright by the Stewart & Kidd
Company, 1914), by Roscoe Gilmore Stott.

To Messrs. Sturgis & Walton for selections from
A Little Book of Homespun Verse, by Margaret E.

To the John C. Winston Company for a selection
from Factories, by Margaret Widdemer.

To the following periodicals thanks are due for per
mission to quote certain poems from their pages:
To The Delineator for "The Tears of Mary," by Theo-
dosia Garrison; to the American Magazine for "His
Playmate," by Harry Kemp; to The Bookman for
"On Christmas Day," by Georgia Wood Pangborn; to
the Century Magazine for "My Father and I," by
Badger Clark, and for "The Blessed Road," by Charles
Buxton Going; to The Forum for "The Pharisee," by
Dorothy Landers Beall; to Harper s Bazar for "The
Twain of Her," by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward;
to Richardson Wright, editor of House and Garden, for
"Gates and Doors," by Joyce Kilmer, and to the
American Poetry Review for "His Laureate," by the
same author; to the Frank A. Munsey Company for
permission to quote the poem, "Judge Me, O Lord,"
by Sarah N. Cleghorn, which appeared in Munsey s
Magazine; to The Columbiad for permission to use a
poem by Joyce Kilmer which appeared in that publica
tion; to the editors of Lippincott s Magazine for "The
Magi and the Faery Folk," by Edith Thomas; to The
Masses for "Comrade Jesus," by Sarah N. Cleghorn;
to the New York Evening Post for "The Wooden
Christ," by Martha Foote Crow; to The Survey for
"The Shadow," by Elizabeth Carter; to the Christian
Advocate for "The Nazareth Shop," by Robert Mcln-
tyre; and to The Independent for "A Page from Ameri
ca s Psalter" and "John," by Willard Wattles. The
poem, "The Sepulchre in the Garden," by President
John Finley, is used by permission of Harper s Maga
zine, copyright, 1917, by Harper & Brothers. The
Outlook gives permission to quote a poem by Robert

Haven Schauffler called "The White Comrade." The
author wishes this note to be added: "After W. H.
Leathem s The White Comrade." 3

Among the poets mentioned above many were kind
enough to add their permission to that of the publish
ers. The gracious response of the following must be
here acknowledged: Professor Katharine Lee Bates,
Amelia Josephine Burr, Richard Burton, Badger Clark,
Sarah N. Cleghorn, Florence Earle Coates, T. A. Daly,
Theodosia Garrison, Dr. Frank W. Gunsaulus, Ruth
Guthrie Harding, Caroline Hazard, Scharmel Iris, Harry
Kemp, Joyce Kilmer, Agnes Lee, Richard Le Gallienne,
Charles Buxton Going, Mai Elmendorf Lillie, Edwin
Markham, Edgar Lee Masters, Harriet Monroe,
Josephine Preston Peabody, Martha E. Pettus, Lizette
Woodworth Reese, Cale Young Rice, Edwin Arlington
Robinson, Carl Sandburg, Robert Haven Schauffler,
Clinton Scollard, Sara Teasdale, Edith Thomas,
Thomas Walsh, George Edward Woodberry, and
Margaret Widdemer.

Personal acknowledgments are also to be made to
the following poets and owners of copyright who have
allowed quotation of poems: to Mr. George M. P.
Baird for permission to quote a poem called "Mused
Mary in Old Age," from Prentice Songs, and "A Ballad
of Wise Men," from Rune and Rann\ to Marian Pelton
Guild for permission to use "The Prodigal Son,"
from Semper Plus Ultra; to Mrs. Ella C. Mclntyre for
the use of "The Nazareth Shop" and "The Mission
aries," by Bishop Robert Mclntyre; to Mrs. Harriet
Moody for permission to quote "Second Coming" and
"Good Friday Night," by William Vaughn Moody;
to May Riley Smith for the use of poems from Some
times and Other Poems; to William Ralph Erskine for

"Rabboni," by Barbara Peattie Erskine; to Willard
Wattles for permission to select from a number of his
poems on this subject which will be gathered by him at
some future time into a book; to Rev. Carroll Lund
Bates for permission to quote a poem from The Master;
to Mr. Herbert D. Ward for the use of "The Twain of
Her," by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward; to Richard Le
Gallienne for the use of "The Second Crucifixion,"
from Robert Louis Stevenson and. Other Poems; to
Josephine Preston Peabody for "The Fishers," from
The Wayfarers; to Richard Burton for "On Syrian
Hills," from Memorial Day and Other Poems; to Mar
garet Widdemer for "Ballad of Wise Men" and "The
Old Road to Paradise"; to Clinton Scollard for poems
that have appeared only in privately printed volumes.

Certain poets have been good enough to send poems
in manuscript. Among these Edwina Stanton Babcock
sent "Told in the Market Place"; Helen Coale Crew,
"The Cedars of Lebanon"; Robert Haven Schauffler,
"The White Comrade"; Edith Thomas, "To See the
New Baby"; Mai Elmendorf Lillie, " Consolator " ;
Harry Lee, "My Master" and "Madness"; and Mary
Bowen Brainerd, "The Christ of Raphael s Transfig

In regard to capitalization, indentation and punctu
ation, the precedent of the authors themselves has
been followed, using the latest editions where possible.


That stern prophet, Dr. Josiah Strong, in one of his
illuminating treatises refers with a fine inadvertence
to "the return to Christ that is now taking place. *
This phrase, like a signboard hidden among the shadows
of a well-forested pathway, might elude the glance of
the passer-by. But when I saw it, the inscription
aroused me to eager question. I had been for a long
time gathering references to poems about Jesus, just
because they had a special interest for me, but with
no definite thought of sharing my finds with others.
Can it be, I now said, that our poets have all along
been singing about the events in the life of Jesus and
I have been deaf to them?

We had always had poets with us, I realized, who
had been ranked as pious poets, who had been swept
to the empyrean by religious themes only. Such poets
gave their whole attention to adoration, praise and
prayer. They stood for that. But as for the general
run of poets they wrote about love, companionship,
the joys of nature, the delight of delight, and very
especially, the sadness of sadness. But very rarely
was found a poem about Jesus mingled with those
on life s general problems, or on the beauty of the

world, or the necessity of enduring bravely the afflic
tion of being alive in a world that was felt to be far
less than a possible best. God was still sitting in a
far away sky and Christ was thought of as something
separate from life, as something shut up carefully in a
place called a church.

Then I laid aside my slender sheaf of poems about
Jesus, gathered by chance or in idle moments, and be
gan to put the question more definitely to proof. First
I ran through some fifty volumes of poems of about
1890. I found few or no poems about Jesus. Then
I plunged in again at 1895 and found but a lonely one
here and there. At 1900 there were more, distinctly
more. At 1905 there was a still brighter dawn. But
when I came to 1910 and thereabouts, times were
changed. Something had verily happened. The fas
cinating theme of Jesus, the dramatic quality of his
human career, the miracle of his personality, had been
discovered; and the position of the poem that il
luminated some incident in the life of Christ or that
enthroned some quality of his character was now
securely established in nearly every book of poetry.
I discovered two things: that I had not been deaf to
the poets earlier singing about Christ, for they had not
been singing of Him at all; and also that "the return
of Christ" was now being delicately registered by the
poets of to-day in poems of varying distinction and
with an impulse commensurate with the power of that
poetic expression that has lately come upon us and that
promises so much for our future.

And the poems were often of a new kind never seen
in books of poetry before. Incidents in his life were

imaginatively reproduced as nearly as possible in the
very semblance that they had when He was upon
earth, and often with a concreteness that is the gift
of the new poetic impulse of our time.

Of course each poem of this kind must be considered
as an. expression of the author s own angle of thought.
But if one considers such a group as is here collected,
the poems may be thought of as the facets of a dia
mond; taken all together they may reflect something
like the white light of truth.

Selecting, then, from the superabundant wealth of
poetical material on this theme, written by the poets
of the United States of America since about 1900, and
arranging them in the order of the events of his life,
we have here a sort of new biography of Jesus, each
chapter of which consists of a poem written by a dif
ferent author, and the whole forming the poetic re
action of our time to the thought of Jesus, what He
was, what his life meant to the world, and, it may be
added in a separate group, what He might yet be to
the world if we would but listen to the Voice that still
rings in our ears.

That is, roughly speaking, what has been attempted
in this book. Stringing the gems of poetry upon a golden
cord of Bible phrases, a poetic biography emerges.
Then follows a series of comments representing dif
ferent historical eras as our poets have imagined the
Good News spreading circle after circle throughout
the world. After this the searchlight is cast upon
our own times, on our hardness and our deafness, on
our refusals and our brutalities, on our dismay of the
present moment. Ultimately our poets are gifted to

see a ray of hope. The White Comrade moves along
the distracted battle line, the Old Road to Paradise is
a travelled way, and after the day of utter havoc,
Brotherhood is to spring anew from ruin.

Beyond the elisions necessary in trying to cram the
best of the poetry into small space, but little guidance
was required in the selection. I hope no theological bent
is discoverable. Jew and Gentile, Protestant, Roman
Catholic, Neo-Pagan, Socialist, Emersonian all sorts
and conditions of lovers and admirers of Jesus are
represented in this collection. The one rule has been
only this does the poem represent a true reverence
and love? To be entered in this catalog it is not re
quired that a poet shall claim that he fully under
stands Jesus Christ!







Thou shall call his name Jesus.

God whispered and a silence fell; the world

Poised one expectant moment like a soul
Who sees at Heaven s threshold the unfurled
White wings of cherubim, the sea impearled,

And pauses, dazed, to comprehend the whole;
Only across all space God s whisper came
And burned about her heart like some white flame.

Then suddenly a bird s note thrilled the peace,
And earth again jarred noisily to life

With a great murmur as of many seas.

But Mary sat with hands clasped on her knees,
And lifted eyes with all amazement rife,

And in her heart the rapture of the Spring

Upon its first sweet day of blossoming.

The Annunciation


Let us now go wen unto

and see this thing that is come to pass.

little town, little town,

Upon the hills so far,
We see you, like a thing sublime,

Across the great gray wastes of time,
And men go up and men go down,

But follow still the star!

And this is humble Bethlehem

In the Judean wild;
And this is lowly Bethlehem

Wherein a mother smiled;
Yea, this is happy Bethlehem

That knew the little Child!

Aye, this is glorious Bethlehem
Where He drew living breath

(Ah, precious, precious Bethlehem!
So every mortal saith)

Who brought to all that tread the earth
Life s triumph over death!

little town, little town,

Upon the hills afar,
You call to us, a thing sublime,

Across the great gray wastes of time,
For men go up and men go down,

But follow still the star!

The Little Town



And there was no room
for them in the inn.

There was a gentle hostler

(And blessed be his name!)
He opened up the stable

The night Our Lady came.
Our Lady and Saint Joseph,

He gave them food and bed,
And Jesus Christ has given him

A glory round his head.

So let the gate swing open

However poor the yard,
Lest weary people visit you

And find their passage barred.
Unlatch the door at midnight

And let your lantern s glow
Shine out to guide the traveller s feet

To you across the snow.

There was a courteous hostler

(He is in Heaven to-night!)
He held Our Lady s bridle

And helped her to alight,
He spread clean straw before her

Whereon she might lie down,
And Jesus Christ has given him

An everlasting crown.

" Unlock the door {his evening

And let the gate swing wide,
Let all who ask for shelter

Come speedily inside.
What if your yard be narrow?

What if your house be small?
There is a Guest is coming

Will glorify it all.

There was a joyous hostler

Who knelt on Christmas morn
Beside the radiant manger

Wherein his Lord was born.
His heart was full of laughter,

His soul was full of bliss
When Jesus, on His mother s lap,

Gave him His hand to kiss.

Unbar your heart this evening

And keep no stranger out,
Take from your soul s great portal

The barrier of doubt.
To humble folk and weary

Give hearty welcoming,
Your breast shall be to-morrow

The cradle of a King.

Gates and Doors: A Ballad of Christmas Eve


Ye shall find a babe
wrapped in swaddling clothes,
and lying in a manger.

The Ox he openeth wide the Doore

And from the Snowe he calls her inne,

And he hath seen her Smile therefor,

Our Lady without Sinne.

Now soone from Sleepe

A Starre shall leap,

And soone arrive both King and Hinde;

Amen, Amen:
But O, the Place co d I but find!

The Ox hath hush d his voyce and bent

Trewe eyes of Pitty ore the Mow,

And on his lovelie Neck, forspent,

The Blessed layes her Browe.

Around her feet

Full Warm and Sweete

His Bowerie Breath doth meeklie dwell;

Amen, Amen:
But sore am I with Vaine Travel.

The Ox is Host in Judah stall,
And Host of more than onelie one,
For close she gathereth withal
Our Lorde, her littel Sonne:

Glad Hinde and King

Their Gyfte may bring,

But wo d to-night my Teares were there;

Amen, Amen:
Between her Bosom and His hayre!

Nativity Song

My soul doth magnify the Lord. . .
for he hath looked upon the low estate
of his handmaid.

On that divine all-hallowed morn
When Christ in Bethlehem was born,
How lone did Mary seem to be,
The kindly beasts for company!

But when she .saw her infant s face
Fair with the soul s unfading grace,
Softly she wept for love s excess,
For painless ease and happiness.

She pressed her treasure to her heart

A lowly mother, set apart

In the dear way that mothers are,

And heaven seemed high, and earth afar:

And when grave kings in sumptuous guise
Adored her babe, she knew them wise;
For at his touch her sense grew dim

So all her being worshipped him.


A nimbus seemed to crown the head
Low-nestled in that manger-bed,
And Mary s forehead, to our sight,
Wears ever something of its light;

And still the heart poor pensioner!
In its affliction turns to her
Best love of all, best understood,
The type of selfless motherhood!

When Christ Was Born


The cedars of Lebanon,

where the birds make their nests.

Murmured all night in cedar d Lebanon

The tree-tops odorous sigh;
Murmured all night beneath the steadfast stars

In frosty sky.

Whisper d the pines O softly! where the hills

Uplifted to the night,
A plaintive dream-song to the snowy earth

All virgin white.

Sighed the tall cedars; fragrant balsams wept;

The firs and hemlocks moaned;
While through their tremulous tops the sweeping winds

Their hymns intoned.


Think you the green trees slept while Mary grieved

In pain and travail sore?
Nay, night-long they watched with her, till at dawn

Her babe she bore.

The Cedars of Lebanon


And they came with haste,

and found the babe lying in the manger.

The Little Jesus came to town;
The wind blew up, the wind blew down;
Out in the street the wind was bold;
Now who would house Him from the cold?

Then opened wide a stable door,
Fair were the rushes on the floor;
The Ox put forth a horned head;
"Come, little Lord, here make Thy bed."

Uprose the Sheep were folded near;
"Thou Lamb of God, come, enter here."
He entered there to rush and reed,
Who was the Lamb of God indeed.

The little Jesus came to town;
With ox and sheep He laid Him down;
Peace to the byre, peace to the fold,
For that they housed Him from the cold!

A Christmas Folk-Song


Good tidings of great joy
which shall be to all the people.

Two little angel-sisters,

Just called from earth away
What brings them back from Heaven,

At dawning of The Day?
Two little Bethlehem sisters

They had a childish way:
Where er was a new baby,

There, too, full soon were they!

One might have seen them running
Along old Bethlehem street . . .

"Oh, let us see the baby-
How sweet it is how sweet!

And let us touch its hands,
And let us kiss its feet."

One might have heard them talking
To every one they meet.

When came this Blessed Baby

They followed Him below . . .
Their wings are in the shadow,

Their faces all aglow
Save for those wings half-hidden,

I own, I should not know
But they were Bethlehem children,

That just love babies so!

To See the New Baby
(to accompany the picture of the
Nativity by Gherardo delle Notte)


Fear not, Mary: for thou
hast found favor with God.

Joseph, the simple tradesman, sat near by,
Awed by his wonder, stilled by sympathy;
Vaguely he mused on what his eyes had seen,
Or pondered slowly what the morn might mean.
Mary slept on that first blest mother-sleep;
He watched alone; the night was growing deep.
Amazed he marked new glory flood her face;
Her eyes were closed, but from her lowly place
She called his name, as one who dreams a dream.
And as he came, her face did strangely gleam.
Her arms lay open, and with knowing glance,
He knew he heard her speaking in a trance.

"Look, Joseph, on my Babe He is a King!
Come near and touch my hand; I hear the ring
Of wondrous anthems bursting from the sky;
I am bewildered and I know not why.
Look, sleeps He well? Ah, Joseph, bear with me
In loving patience as thou hast, for we
Joseph, they sing again! Hear ye the choir?
Their faces shine as with a sacred fire.
They hover near us O, a mighty throng
Are singing for my Babe His natal-song!
Before His star a thousand stars take flight
Who placed it there, that wondrous, holy Light?
My joy dear Joseph, can I bear it all?

My joy! Ah, see around me fall

The dismal shadows of a distant cross!
My fathers God, is all this gain or loss?"

And Joseph for he could not understand
Knelt by her side and, wond ring, kissed her hand.

Joseph and Mary

And there were shepherds in the same country,
keeping watch by night over their Hock

First Shepherd, a youth:

I saw a wonder as I came along:
Out of the sky there dropped a shining song.
I do not know if stars in heaven have wings;
But look, and listen! there it soars and sings.

Second Shepherd, an old man:

My eyes are dazzled for the light is strong.

The Angel:

I bring good tidings, snepherds, have no fear:
The Saviour of the whole world is come near.
A child is born to-night in Bethlehem
Who brings great joy to all, and most to them
Who are most poor. The King! The King is here !

First Shepherd:

1 3 4 5 6 7 8

Online LibraryMartha Foote CrowChrist in the poetry of today; an anthology from American poets → online text (page 1 of 8)