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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

IV. Cornish: From ‘The Poem of the Passion’

By Celtic Literature

[The Death of Our Lord on the Cross]

HIS pain was strong and sharp, so that he could not live,

But must yield up his white soul; ever purely had he lived,

And Christ prayed, as thus in many a place we read,

“My soul I do commend, O Lord, between thy hands!”

For weakly he breathed, being constrained, so that he could not rest;

On nothing could he lean his head for the garland that he wore.

If he leaned to one side, for his shoulder it grieved him

And the tree did yet worse, if he set it backwards.

Nor could he lean forward for fear of being choked.

Then was it as we read in books as it is written:—

“For the birds to make their nests, places are prepared,

But for Christ where he may lay his head no place is found.”

But now must he needs leave his head to hang,

For his blood was all gone from him, and he could not live.

To the side of the Mother that owned him, his head he would hold,

And his soul went from him with chilling shriek and shrill cry.

Beside the Cross of Jesus was a man hight Sentury,

And when he saw the wondrous things that happened at Christ’s death,

And how his soul he yielded, against nature, with a cry,

He said without scorning, “This truly was God’s Son;”

And many were there with him that testimony bore.

Now was it midday in the land, or later, as is written.

Earthquake there was and lightning, and darkness over all;

The Temple Veil was rent in twain, and to the ground it fell,

And likewise broken were the stones so strong and hard.

Graves in many places were opened wide,

And the bodies that were in them were raised up,

And went straightway to the city—by many were they seen—

To bear witness that it was God’s Son that was slain.

Water, earth, and fire, and wind, sun, moon, and stars likewise,

At Christ’s suffering death knew sorrow.

Nature will cause, I trow, if the good Lord be pained,

All his subjects, even saints, to be grieved for his pain.