Poems (Botta)/Christ Betrayed

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Eighteen hundred years agone Was that deed of darkness done— Was that sacred, thorn-crowned head To a shameful death betrayed, And Iscariot’s traitor name Blazoned in eternal shame. Thou, disciple of our time, Follower of the faith sublime, Who with high and holy scorn Of that traitorous deed dost burn, Though the years may never more To our earth that form restore The Christ-Spirit ever lives— Ever in thy heart he strives. When pale Misery mutely calls; When thy tempted brother falls; When thy gentle words may chain Hate, and Anger, and Disdain, Or thy loving smile impart Courage to some sinking heart; When within thy troubled breast Good and evil thoughts contest; Though unconscious thou may’st be, The Christ-Spirit strives with thee. When he trod the Holy Land, With his small disciple band, And the fated hour had come For that august martyrdom— When the man, the human love, And the God within him strove— As in Gethsemane he wept, They, the faithless watchers, slept: While for them he wept and prayed, One denied and one betrayed! If to-day thou turn’st aside In thy luxury and pride, Wrapped within thyself and blind To the sorrows of thy kind, Thou a faithless watch dost keep— Thou art one of those who sleep: Or, if waking thou dost see Nothing of Divinity In our fallen, struggling race; If in them thou seest no trace Of a glory dimmed, not gone, Of a Future to be won— Of a Future, hopeful, high— Thou, like Peter, dost deny: But if, seeing, thou believest, If the Evangel thou receivest, Yet, if thou art bound to Sin, False to the Ideal within, Slave of Ease or slave of Gold, Thou the Son of God hast sold!