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

The Healing of the Daughter of Jairus

Nathaniel Parker Willis (1806–1867)

FRESHLY the cool breath of the coming eve

Stole through the lattice, and the dying girl

Felt it upon her forehead. She had lain

Since the hot noontide in a breathless trance—

Her thin pale fingers clasp’d within the hand

Of the heart-broken Ruler, and her breast,

Like the dead marble, white and motionless.

The shadow of a leaf lay on her lips,

And, as it stirr’d with the awakening wind,

The dark lids lifted from her languid eyes,

And her slight fingers moved, and heavily

She turn’d upon her pillow. He was there—

The same loved, tireless watcher, and she look’d

Into his face until her sight grew dim

With the fast-falling tears; and, with a sigh

Of tremulous weakness murmuring his name,

She gently drew his hand upon her lips,

And kiss’d it as she wept. The old man sunk

Upon his knees, and in the drapery

Of the rich curtains buried up his face;

And when the twilight fell, the silken folds

Stirr’d with his prayer, but the slight hand he held

Had ceased its pressure; and he could not hear,

In the dead utter silence, that a breath

Came through her nostrils; and her temples gave

To his nice touch no pulse; and at her mouth

He held the lightest curl that on her neck

Lay with a mocking beauty, and his gaze

Ached with its deathly stillness


It was night—

And softly, o’er the Sea of Galilee,

Danced the breeze-ridden ripples to the shore,

Tipp’d with the silver sparkles of the moon.

The breaking waves play’d low upon the beach

Their constant music, but the air beside

Was still as starlight, and the Saviour’s voice,

In its rich cadences unearthly sweet,

Seem’d like some just-born harmony in the air,

Waked by the power of wisdom. On a rock,

With the broad moonlight falling on his brow.

He stood and taught the people. At his feet

Lay his small scrip, and pilgrim’s scallop-shell,

And staff—for they had waited by the sea

Till he came o’er from Gadarene, and pray’d

For his wont teachings as he came to land,

His hair was parted meekly on his brow,

And the long curls from off his shoulders fell,

As he leaned forward earnestly, and still

The same calm cadence, passionless and deep—

And in his looks the same mild majesty—

And in his mien the sadness mixed with power—

Fill’d them with love and wonder. Suddenly,

As on his words entrancedly they hung,

The crowd divided, and among them stood

JAIRUS THE RULER. With his flowing robe

Gather’d in haste about his loins, he came

And fixed his eyes on Jesus. Closer drew

The twelve disciples to their Master’s side;

And silently the people shrank away,

And left the haughty Ruler in the midst

Alone. A moment longer on the face

Of the meek Nazarene he kept his gaze,

And, as the twelve look’d on him, by the light

Of the clear moon they saw a glistening tear

Steal to his silver beard; and, drawing nigh

Unto the Saviour’s feet, he took the hem

Of his coarse mantle, and with trembling hands

Press’d it upon his lips, and murmur’d low,

“Master! my daughter!”


The same silvery light

That shone upon the lone rock by the sea,

Slept on the Ruler’s lofty capitals,

As at the door he stood, and welcomed in

Jesus and his disciples. All was still.

The echoing vestibule gave back the slide

Of their loose sandals, and the arrowy beam

Of moonlight, slanting to the marble floor,

Lay like a spell of silence in the rooms,

As Jairus led them on. With hushing steps

He trod the winding stair; but ere he touch’d

The latchet, from within a whisper came,

“Trouble the Master not—for she is dead!”

And his faint hand fell nerveless at his side,

And his steps falter’d, and his broken voice

Choked in its utterance: but a gentle hand

Was laid upon his arm, and in his ear

The Saviour’s voice sank thrillingly and low,

“She is not dead; but sleepeth.”

They pass’d in.

The spice-lamps in the alabaster urns

Burn’d dimly, and the white and fragrant smoke

Curl’d indolently on the chamber walls.

The silken curtains slumber’d in their folds—

Not even a tassel stirring in the air—

And as the Saviour stood beside the bed,

And pray’d inaudibly, the Ruler heard

The quickening division of his breath

As he grew earnest inwardly. There came

A gradual brightness o’er his calm, sad face;

And, drawing nearer to the bed, he moved

The silken curtains silently apart,

And look’d upon the maiden.

Like a form

Of matchless sculpture in her sleep she lay—

The linen vesture folded on her breast,

And over it her white transparent hands,

The blood still rosy in their tapering nails.

A line of pearl ran through her parted lips,

And in her nostrils, spiritually thin,

The breathing curve was mockingly like life;

And round beneath the faintly tinted skin

Ran the light branches of the azure veins;

And on her cheek the jet lash overlay,

Matching the arches pencill’d on her brow.

Her hair had been unbound, and falling loose

Upon her pillow, hid her small round ears

In curls of glossy blackness, and about

Her polish’d neck, scarce touching it, they hung

Like airy shadows floating as they slept.

’Twas heavenly beautiful. The Saviour raised

Her hand from off her bosom, and spread out

The snowy fingers in his palm, and said,

“Maiden! Arise!”—and suddenly a flush

Shot o’er her forehead, and along her lips

And through her cheek the rallied colour ran;

And the still outline of her graceful form

Stirr’d in the linen vesture; and she clasp’d

The Saviour’s hand, and, fixing her dark eyes

Full on his beaming countenance—AROSE!