Bread in the Wilderness

Bread in the Wilderness
by Lydia Sigourney

Holland, J. G. [Josiah Gilbert]. Christ and the Twelve: or, Scenes and Events in the Life of our Saviour and His Apostles, As Painted by the Poets. Springfield, Illinois: Gurdon Bill & Company; Chicago: Charles Bill; Cincinnati: H. C. Johnson, 1867. Page 102.

But Jesus said unto them, " They need not depart; give ye them to eat."
And they said unto him, "We have here but five loaves, and two fishes." He
said "Bring them hither to me." And he commanded the multitude to sit down
on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to
heaven, he blessed and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples
to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled; and they'took up of
the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. And they that had eaten were
about five thousand men, besides women and children.—ST. MATTHEW xiv. 16-21.

          A VOICE amid the desert.
                                                 Not of him
          Who, in rough garments clad, and locust-fed,
          Cried to the sinful multitude, and claim'd
          Fruits of repentance, with the lifted scourge
          Of terror and reproof. A milder guide,
          With gentler tones, doth teach the listening throng.
          Benignant pity moved him as he saw
          The shepherdless and poor. He knew to touch
          The springs of every nature. The high lore
          Of Heaven he humbled to the simplest child,
          And in the guise of parable allured
          The sluggish mind to follow truth and live.
          They whom the thunders of the Law had stunn'd
          Woke to the Gospel's melody with tears;
          And the glad Jewish mother held her babe
          High in her arms, that its young eye might meet
          Jesus of Nazareth.
                                                 It was so still,
          Though thousands cluster'd there, that not a sound
          Brake the strong spell of eloquence which held
          The wilderness in chains, save now and then,
          As the gale freshen'd, came the murmur'd speech
          Of distant billows, chafing withl the shores
          Of the Tiberian Sea.
                                                 Day wore apace,
          Noon hasted, and the lengthening shadows brought
          The unexpected eve. They linger'd still,
          Eyes fix'd and lips apart; the very breath
          Constrained, lest some escaping sigh might break
          The tide of knowledge, sweeping o'er their souls
          Like a strange, raptured dream. They heeded not
          The spent sun, closing at the curtain'd west
          His burning journey. What was time to them,
          Who heard entranced the eternal Word of Life?
               But the weak flesh grew weary. Hunger came,
          Sharpening each feature, and to faintness drain'd
          Life's vigorous fount. The holy Saviour felt
          Compassion for them. His disciples press,
          Care-stricken, to his side: "Where shall we find
          Bread in this desert?"
                                                 Then, with lifted eye,
          He bless'd, and brake, the slender store of food,
          And fed the famish'd thousands. Wondering awe
          With renovated strength inspired their souls,
          As, gazing on the miracle, they mark'd
          The gather'd fragments of their feast, and heard
          Such heavenly words as lip of mortal man
          Had never uttered.
                                                 Thou, whose pitying heart
          Yearn'd o'er the countless miseries of those
          Whom thou didst die to save, touch thou our souls
          With the same spirit of untiring love.
          Divine Redeemer! may our fellow-man,
          Howe'er by rank or circumstance disjoined,
          Be as a brother in his hour of need.

This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.