Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth

United States, (1807-1882)

THE DEMONIAC OF GADARA

  1. A GADARENE.
  2. He hath escaped, hath plucked his chains asunder,
  3. And broken his fetters; always night and day
  4. Is in the mountains here, and in the tombs,
  5. Crying aloud, and cutting himself with stones,
  6. Exceeding fierce, so that no man can tame him!
  7.  
  8. THE DEMONIAC from above, unseen.
  9. O Aschmedai! O Aschmedai, have pity!
  10.  
  11. A GADARENE.
  12. Listen! It is his voice! Go warn the people
  13. Just landing from the lake!
  14.  
  15. THE DEMONIAC.
  16. O Aschmedai!
  17. Thou angel of the bottomless pit, have pity!
  18. It was enough to hurl King Solomon,
  19. On whom be peace! two hundred leagues away
  20. Into the country, and to make him scullion
  21. In the kitchen of the King of Maschkemen!
  22. Why dost thou hurl me here among these rocks,
  23. And cut me with these stones?
  24.  
  25. A GADARENE.
  26. He raves and mutters
  27. He knows not what.
  28.  
  29. THE DEMONIAC, appearing from a tomb among the rocks.
  30. The wild cock Tarnegal
  31. Singeth to me, and bids me to the banquet,
  32. Where all the Jews shall come; for they have slain
  33. Behemoth the great ox, who daily cropped
  34. A thousand hills for food, and at a draught
  35. Drank up the river Jordan, and have slain
  36. The huge Leviathan, and stretched his skin
  37. Upon the high walls of Jerusalem,
  38. And made them shine from one end of the world
  39. Unto the other; and the fowl Barjuchne,
  40. Whose outspread wings eclipse the sun, and make
  41. Midnight at noon o’er all the continents!
  42. And we shall drink the wine of Paradise
  43. From Adam’s cellars.
  44.  
  45. A GADARENE.
  46. O thou unclean spirit!
  47.  
  48. THE DEMONIAC, hurling down a stone.
  49. This is the wonderful Barjuchne’s egg,
  50. That fell out of her nest, and broke to pieces
  51. And swept away three hundred cedar-trees,
  52. And threescore villages! — Rabbi Eliezer,
  53. How thou didst sin there in that seaport town
  54. When thou hadst carried safe thy chest of silver
  55. Over the seven rivers for her sake!
  56. I too have sinned beyond the reach of pardon.
  57. Ye hills and mountains, pray for mercy on me!
  58. Ye stars and planets, pray for mercy on me!
  59. Ye sun and moon, oh pray for mercy on me!
  60.  
  61. CHRISTUS and his disciples pass.
  62.  
  63. A GADARENE.
  64. There is a man here of Decapolis,
  65. Who hath an unclean spirit; so that none
  66. Can pass this way. He lives among the tombs
  67. Up there upon the cliffs, and hurls down stones
  68. On those who pass beneath.
  69.  
  70. CHRISTUS.
  71. Come out of him,
  72. Thou unclean spirit!
  73.  
  74. THE DEMONIAC.
  75. What have I to do
  76. With thee, thou Son of God? Do not torment us.
  77.  
  78. CHRISTUS.
  79. What is thy name?
  80.  
  81. THE DEMONIAC.
  82. Legion; for we are many.
  83. Cain, the first murderer; and the King Belshazzar,
  84. And Evil Merodach of Babylon,
  85. And Admatha, the death-cloud, prince of Persia
  86. And Aschmedai the angel of the pit,
  87. And many other devils. We are Legion.
  88. Send us not forth beyond Decapolis;
  89. Command us not to go into the deep!
  90. There is a herd of swine here in the pastures,
  91. Let us go into them.
  92.  
  93. CHRISTUS.
  94. Come out of him,
  95. Thou unclean spirit!
  96.  
  97. A GADARENE.
  98. See how stupefied,
  99. How motionless he stands! He cries no more;
  100. He seems bewildered and in silence stares
  101. As one who, walking in his sleep, awakes
  102. And knows not where he is, and looks about him,
  103. And at his nakedness, and is ashamed.
  104.  
  105. THE DEMONIAC.
  106. Why am I here alone among the tombs?
  107. What have they done to me, that I am naked?
  108. Ah, woe is me!
  109.  
  110. CHRISTUS.
  111. Go home unto thy friends
  112. And tell them how great things the Lord hath done
  113. For thee, and how He had compassion on thee!
  114.  
  115. A SWINEHERD, running.
  116. The herds! the herd! O most unlucky day!
  117. They were all feeding quiet in the sun,
  118. When suddenly they started, and grew savage
  119. As the wild boars of Tabor, and together
  120. Rushed down a precipice into the sea!
  121. They are all drowned!
  122.  
  123. PETER.
  124. Thus righteously are punished
  125. The apostate Jews, that eat the flesh of swine,
  126. And broth of such abominable things!
  127.  
  128. GREEKS OF GADARA.
  129. We sacrifice a sow unto Demeter
  130. At the beginning of harvest and another
  131. To Dionysus at the vintage-time.
  132. Therefore we prize our herds of swine, and count them
  133. Not as unclean, but as things consecrate
  134. To the immortal gods. O great magician,
  135. Depart out of our coasts; let us alone,
  136. We are afraid of thee.
  137.  
  138. PETER.
  139. Let us depart;
  140. For they that sanctify and purify
  141. Themselves in gardens, eating flesh of swine.
  142. And the abomination, and the mouse,
  143. Shall be consumed together, saith the Lord!

Christus: A Mystery. 1872, Part I: The Divine Tragedy, Chapter: VII, The Demoniac of Gadara.

About the Poet

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), US poet, Professor of Modern Languages at Harvard (1834-54) and European traveler. His best-known works were in a narrative romantic style with repetitive metre, such as ‘The Song of Hiawatha’ (1855).

Longfellow also received honorary degrees at Oxford and Cambridge (1868-69), and a bust of him was placed in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey after his death — the only US poet to be afforded such an honor. [DES-6/03]

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