Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, LISTENING, by KATHARINE LEE BATES

Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

LISTENING, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Growing in wisdom and in stature, oft
Last Line: That his adventure must be suffering.
Subject(s): Jesus Christ; Passover

Growing in wisdom and in stature, oft
Must He have wondered what life was to be,
What fruit would come of that slow blossoming
Among the working folk of Galilee.
Strange His replies to Mary, as aloft
On the roof He helped her spread the stalks of flax
While her wistful voice would tell the woes of Israel,
Mary believing she had borne a King.

He hearkened all His mother's words, but they
Were less and less in cadence with the tide
Of thought that pondered what the years would bring.
He sought the synagogue whose Rabbis tried
Vainly to answer Him, and day by day
He pored upon the parchment scrolls of the Law
And of the Prophets, stored in carven chest with hoard
Of robes and veils and many a precious thing.

Oft slept He on the hills, wrapt in the fold
Of His mantle, waking now and then to see
Grand constellations through the midnight swing,
Tracing upon the dark syllables He
Would half remember, scriptures all of gold.
Dreaming of David, He would hear the harp
Weaving its wayward charm with the shepherd's lonely psalm,
Not the pebble whistling from the champion's sling.

Loving all beauty from those meadow flowers
That taught their art to Oriental looms,
Iris, phlox, lily, tulip carpeting
Valley and hill with many-tinted blooms,
Up through the changing grace of sun and showers
To the soft gloaming with its homing flight
Of files of pelicans, the sky's plumed caravans,
Yet nature hurt Him with a secret sting.

At Passover He pitied lamb and kid,
Innocent victims of the solemn feast,
Torn from the life to which all creatures cling;
He felt the blows that bruised a plodding beast,
And tiny agonies green thickets hid,
Fierce claws and fangs that pounced on quivering flesh,
Struggles in cruel snares, bewildered, dumb despairs,
The flutter, flutter of a broken wing.

The groan of the creation smote His ear
Under all music of the wind and rain.
How could God see what man saw and not fling
Great arms of Fatherhood about the pain
Of this His world? So Jesus came to hear
The call as yet unworded, vague and far,
Yet ever as He grew in grace more clearly knew
That His adventure must be suffering.

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