Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A STRANGER IN SEYTHOPOLIS, by KATHARINE LEE BATES

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A STRANGER IN SEYTHOPOLIS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Eager he wandered the streets of scythopolis
Last Line: Though he knew not yet that to him should the gentiles seek.
Subject(s): Bethshan (Seythopolis); Jesus Christ - Childhood & Youth; Palestine

Eager he wandered the streets of Scythopolis,
A Hebrew youth, with the dust of twoscore miles
Staining his sandals, dark eyes dancing with bliss
Of beauty, -- arches and pillars and peristyles,
Porticos, domes and many an edifice
Noble in line and color. And ever the passers-by turned
And spake with him till their hearts within them burned.

Simple his words, sounded with rustic burr
Of the Galilean, but he was himself the Word
Of God's own joy, and each leaf-crowned reveller
Moved on to a music in heart he had not heard
Since, a child, he ran with the wind. The sophister,
Even the cynic whose sneers had beaten on life like whips,
Marvelled to find sweet laughter on their lips.

Beggars that crouched in the streets of Scythopolis,
Lean hands plucking at togas that swept them by,
Let pass his scrip too humble for avarice,
But it fed them with fruits as in limitless supply,
Figs, dates, olives, that thrilled the paralysis
From spirit and nerve till, arising, the happy lame walked free,
Till the bewildered blind cried out, "I see!"

Before a sculptured Diana in Parian
Marble the prentice carpenter drew quick breath
Of rapture. From her litter a courtesan
Beheld him standing like one that worshippeth
And cowered back on her perfumed pillows, wan,
Smit by the silver shaft of chastity. Over him flew
Doves like a halo of wings against the blue.

Why were forbidden the streets of Scythopolis,
Wondered the young Nazarene as he lingered in them.
Were not Beauty and Mirth the angels of this
City more splendid than holy Jerusalem?
He knew by the Voice within him that not amiss
Had he done that day in seeking the glories of Roman and Greek,
Though he knew not yet that to him should the Gentiles seek.

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