The summer dawn came over-soon, The earth was like hot iron at noon In Nazareth; There fell no rain to ease the heat, And dusk drew on with tired feet And stifled breath.
The shop was low and hot and square, And fresh-cut wood made sharp the air, While all day long The saw went tearing thru the oak That moaned as tho' the tree's heart broke Beneath its wrong.
The narrow street was full of cries, Of bickering and snarling lies In many keys— The tongues of Egypt and of Rome And lands beyond the shifting foam Of windy seas.
Sometimes a ruler riding fast Scattered the dark crowds as he passed, And drove them close In doorways, drawing broken breath Lest they be trampled to their death Where the dust rose.
There in the gathering night and noise A group of Galilean boys Crowding to see Gray Joseph toiling with his son, Saw Jesus, when the task was done, Turn wearily.
He passed them by with hurried tread Silently, nor raised his head, He who looked up Drinking all beauty from his birth Out of the heaven and the earth As from a cup.
And Mary, who was growing old, Knew that the pottage would be cold When he returned; He hungered only for the night, And westward, bending sharp and bright, The thin moon burned.
He reached the open western gate Where whining halt and leper wait, And came at last To the blue desert, where the deep Great seas of twilight lay asleep, Windless and vast.
With shining eyes the stars awoke, The dew lay heavy on his cloak, The world was dim; And in the stillness he could hear His secret thoughts draw very near And call to him.
Faint voices lifted shrill with pain And multitudinous as rain; From all the lands And all the villages thereof Men crying for the gift of love With outstretched hands.
Voices that called with ceaseless crying, The broken and the blind, the dying, And those grown dumb Beneath oppression, and he heard Upon their lips a single word, "Come!"
Their cries engulfed him like the night, The moon put out her placid light And black and low Nearer the heavy thunder drew, Hushing the voices . . . yet he knew That he would go.
A quick-spun thread of lightning burns, And for a flash the day returns— He only hears Joseph, an old man bent and white Toiling alone from morn till night Thru all the years.
Swift clouds make all the heavens blind, A storm is running on the wind— He only sees How Mary will stretch out her hands Sobbing, who never understands Voices like these.