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

The Mother of Zebedee’s Children

George MacDonald (1824–1905)

SHE knelt, she bore a bold request,

Though shy to speak it out;

Ambition, even in mother’s breast,

Before him stood in doubt.

“What is it?” “These my sons, allow

To sit on thy right hand

And on thy left, O Lord, when thou

Art ruler in the land.”

“Ye know not what ye ask.” There lay

A baptism and a cup

They understood not, in the way

By which he must go up.

She would have had them lifted high

Above their fellow-men;

Sharing their pride with mother-eye,

Had been blest mother then.

But would she praise for granted quest,

Counting her prayer well heard,

If of the three on Calvary’s crest

They shared the first and third?

She knoweth neither way nor end;

There comes a dark despair,

When she will doubt if this great friend

Can answer any prayer.

Yet higher than her love can dare,

His love her sons will set:

They shall his cup and baptism share,

And share his kingdom yet.

They, entering at his palace-door,

Shall shun the lofty seat;

Shall gird themselves, and water pour,

And wash each other’s feet.

For in thy kingdom, lowly Lord,

Who sit with thee on high

Are those who tenderest help afford

In most humility.