Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE RICH YOUNG RULER QUESTIONS, by WILLIAM E. BROOKS



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THE RICH YOUNG RULER QUESTIONS, by            
First Line: The night grew late, nor yet matthias paused
Last Line: "sometimes I wonder did he think me fool!"
Subject(s): Apostles; Bible; Jesus Christ; Disciples, Twelve


The night grew late, nor yet Matthias paused
In the swift perturbed pace he had kept these hours
Beneath the palms, there at the garden's edge,
As a tiger pads his way from bar to bar.
Long since the purple twilight passed to dark,
Even the singing night-birds now were still,
Only the wind stirred, bearing on its wings
The odors raped from all the sleeping flowers,
Nodding and sleeping under the waning moon.
A night it seemed for quiet and deep thought
Of far-off, faint, and half forgotten things --
But quiet found no dwelling in his heart.

"What is there these men know that I know not,
What have they that to me is still denied?
Born as they were in sodden Galilee
To ignorant years and dull and clownish ways,
They bear themselves as princes bear themselves,
And lords that know no fear of heaven or earth,
Not proud but confident of their great power.
And yet what is their power? They hold no place,
The Roman scorns them and shrewd Caiaphas
Has sworn that he will hand them on a tree
As once he hung their Master. Yet serene
They walk their way as though they feared no man,
Telling in Temple porch, in crowded street,
The same wild story of their risen Lord,
And how besides them all the days He goes.
Poor fools, to find their peace in such a tale!
Today men stoned, beyond the city wall,
One Stephen, of their company, to death.
He died with a great glory on his face,
More glad in death than most men are in life . . .
What have they brings this peace that I know not?
I, of high place, with name of wide renown,
With power beyond my years in Sanhedrin,
This Palace and these gardens for mine ease,
A host of slaves that listen to my call,
And fleets that scour the utmost alien seas
To add each year new treasure to my store . . .
I all, they naught, of things that all men praise,
They all, I naught, of that my soul desires!

"There was a day in my ecstatic youth,
A quiet morning when He passed this way,
Their Master who they say has brought them peace,
And I ran to Him, kneeling in the road,
And asked of Him the secret they had learned.
He bade me leave behind and follow Him,
This house, these gardens, all my rich estate,
Throwing them to the poor with never a thought.
A fool He thought me, but I was no fool,
To sell the surety my father gave,
And all my toil had added to the store,
To follow a Madman's dream about the world,
A wanderer with no place to lay my head.
'Twas not for me, I knew the power of gold,
The power of place, and so I held my own . . .
I hold it still and all men call me great.
And yet I miss one thing they seem to have,
These clowns of Galilee with the radiant eyes . . ,
Sometimes I wonder did He think me fool!"





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