About Tereza Filgu
Up from the templed city of the Jews,
The road ran straight and white
To Jericho, the City of the Palms,
The City of Delight.
Down that still road from far Judean hills
The shepherds drove their sheep
At silver dawn--at stirring of the birds--
When men were all asleep.
Full many went that weary way at noon,
Or rested by the trees,
Romans and slaves, Gentiles and bearded priests,
Sinners and Pharisees.
But when the pink clouds drifted far and high,
Like rose leaves blowing past,
When in the west where one star blessed the sky
The gates of day shut fast.
All travellers journeyed home, and the moonlight
Washed the road fresh and sweet,
Until it seemed a gleaming ivory path,
Waiting for royal feet.
* * * * *
Now it was noon, and life at its full tide
Rolled ever to and fro,
A restless sea, between Jerusalem
And white-walled Jericho.
Blind Bartimeus, by the highway side,
Sat begging 'neath the trees,
And heard the world go by, Gentiles and Jews,
Sinners and Pharisees.
Blind Bartimeus of the mask-like face,
And patient, outstretched hand--
He upon whom his God had set a mark
No man might understand;
Blind Bartimeus of the lonely dark,
Who knew no thing called fear,
But dreamt his dreams, and heard the little sounds
No man but he could hear.
He heard the beating of the bird's soft wings
Uprising through the air;
He heard the camel's footfall in the dust,
And knew who travelled there.
He heard the lizard when it moved at noon
On the grey, sunlit wall;
He heard the far-off temple bells, what time
He felt the shadows fall.
Now, in the golden hour, he stooped to hear
A muffled sound and low,
The tramping of a myriad sandalled feet
That came from Jericho.
Then on the road a little lad he knew
Ran past, with eager cry,
'Ho, Bartimeus! Give thine heart good cheer,
For David's Son comes by!
'He comes! He comes! And, sad one, who can say
What He may do for thee?
He makes the lame to walk! He heals the sick!
He makes the blind to see!'
'He makes the blind to see! Oh, God of Hosts,
Beyond the sky called blue,
What if Messiah cometh to His own!
What if the words be true!'
On his swift way the little herald sped,
Like bird upon the wing,
And left the lean, brown beggar--world-forgot--
Waiting for Israel's King.
But when the dust came whirling to his feet--
When the mad throng drew near--
Blind Bartimeus rose, and from his lips
A cry rang loud and clear--
The cry of all the ages, of each soul
In sad captivity;
The endless cry from depths of bitter woe--
'Have mercy upon me!'
What though the wild oncoming multitude
Jested and bade him cease;
What though the Scribes and mighty Pharisees
Told him to keep his peace;
What though his heart grew faint, and all the strength
Slipped from each trembling limb--
The One of all the earth his soul desired
Stood still--and spoke to him.
Then silence fell, while the upheaving throng,
As sea-waves backward curled,
Left a great path, and down the path there shone
The Light of all the world.
The Light from whose mysterious golden depths
The Sun rose in his might--
The light from whose white, hidden fires were lit
The torches of the night;
The Light that shining on a thing of clay
Giveth it Life and Will:
The Light that with an unknown power can blast
And bid all life be still;
The Light that calls a ray of its own light
A man's undying soul--
The Light that lifts the broken lives of earth,
Touches and makes them whole.
Up towards the Radiance Bartimeus went,
Alone, and poor, and blind--
Feeling his way, if haply it led on
To One he fain would find.
Then spoke the Voice again. Oh, mystic words
Of a compelling grace:
The curtain rose from off his darkened sight--
He saw the King's own face.
So strangely beautiful--so strangely near--
He worshipped with his eyes,
Unheeding that for him at last there shone
The sunlit noonday skies.
What though the clamouring crowd echoed his name
Unto its utmost rim,
He only saw the Christ--and in the light
He rose and followed Him.
* * * * *
Oh, Bartimeus of the mask-like face,
And patient, outstretched hand,
Was it for this God set on thee the mark
No man might understand?