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W. Garrett Horder, comp. The Poets’ Bible: New Testament. 1895.

Jacob’s Well

James Freeman Clarke (1810–1888)

HERE, after Jacob parted from his brother,

His daughters lingered round this well, new made;

Here, seventeen centuries after, came another,

And talked with Jesus, wondering and afraid.

Here, other centuries past, the Emperor’s mother

Shelter’d its waters with a temple’s shade.

Here ’mid the fallen fragments, as of old,

The girl her pitcher dips within its waters cold.

And Jacob’s race grew strong for many an hour,

Then torn beneath the Roman eagle lay;

The Roman’s vast and earth-controlling power

Has crumbled, like these shafts and stones, away,

But still the waters, fed by dew and shower,

Come up as ever, to the light of day,

And still the maid bends downward with her urn,

Well pleased to see its glass her lovely face return.

And those few words of truth, first uttered here,

Have sunk into the human soul and heart;

A spiritual faith dawns bright and clear,

Dark creeds and ancient mysteries depart;

The hour for God’s true worshippers draws near;

Then mourn not o’er the wrecks of earthly art;

Kingdoms may fall, and human works decay,

Nature moves on unchanged, Truths never pass away.