Mount Quarantania

[Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem from the collection: Christus: A Mystery]


I

LUCIFER.
Not in the lightning's flash, nor in the thunder,
Not in the tempest, nor the cloudy storm,
Will I array my form;
But part invisible these boughs asunder,
And move and murmur as the wind upheaves
And whispers in the leaves.

Not as a terror and a desolation,
Not in my natural shape, inspiring fear
And dread, will I appear;
But in soft tones of sweetness and persuasion,
A sound as of the fall of mountain streams,
Or voices heard in dreams.

He sitteth there in silence, worn and wasted
With famine, and uplifts his hollow eyes
To the unpitying skies;
For forty days and nights he hath not tasted
Of food or drink, his parted lips are pale,
Surely his strength must fail.

Wherefore dost thou in penitential fasting
Waste and consume the beauty of thy youth.
Ah, if thou be in truth
The Son of the Unnamed, the Everlasting,
Command these stones beneath thy feet to be
Changed into bread for thee!

CHRISTUS.
'T is written! Man shall not live by bread alone,
But by each word that from God's mouth proceede

II

LUCIFER.
Too weak, alas! too weak is the temptation
For one whose soul to nobler things aspires
Than sensual desires!
Ah, could I, by some sudden aberration,
Lend and delude to suicidal death
This Christ of Nazareth!

Unto the holy Temple on Moriah,
With its resplendent domes, and manifold
Bright pinnacles of gold,
Where they await thy coming, O Messiah!
Lo, I have brought thee! Let thy glory here
Be manifest and clear.

Reveal thyself by royal act and gesture
Descending with the bright triumphant host
Of all the hithermost
Archangels, and about thee as a vesture
The shining clouds, and all thy splendors show
Unto the world below!

Cast thyself down, it is the hour appointed;
And God hath given his angels charge and care
To keep thee and upbear
Upon their hands his only Son, the Anointed,
Lest he should dash his foot against a stone
And die, and be unknown.

CHRISTUS.
'T is written: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God!

III

LUCIFER.
I cannot thus delude him to perdition!
But one temptation still remains untried,
The trial of his pride,
The thirst of power, the fever of ambition!
Surely by these a humble peasant's son
At last may be undone!

Above the yawning chasms and deep abysses,
Across the headlong torrents, I have brought
Thy footsteps, swift as thought;
And from the highest of these precipices,
The Kingdoms of the world thine eyes behold.
Like a great map unrolled.

From far-off Lebanon, with cedars crested,
To where the waters of the Asphalt Lake
On its white pebbles break,
And the vast desert, silent, sand-invested,
These kingdoms all are mine, and thine shall be,
If thou wilt worship me!

CHRISTUS.
Get thee behind me, Satan! thou shalt worship
The Lord thy God; Him only shalt thou serve!

ANGELS MINISTRANT.
The sun goes down; the evening shadows lengthen,
The fever and the struggle of the day
Abate and pass away;
Thine Angels Miniatrant, we come to strengthen
And comfort thee, and crown thee with the palm,
The silence and the calm.