Good Friday: Rex Tragicus, or,
Christ Going to His Cross
To the sad place of executïon:
Thine hour is come, and the tormentor stands
Ready to pierce thy tender feet and hands.
Long before this, the base, the dull, the rude,
The inconstant and unpurgèd multitude
Yawn for thy coming: some ere this time cry
'How he defers, how loath he is to die!'
Amongst this scum, the soldier with his spear,
And that sour fellow with his vinegar,
His spunge, and stick, do ask why thou dost stay.
So do the scurf and bran too: go thy way,
Thy way, thou guiltless man, and satisfy
By thine approach each their beholding eye.
Not as a thief shalt thou ascend the mount,
But like a person of some high account:
The cross shall be thy stage, and thou shalt there
The spacious field have for thy theatre.
Thou art that Roscius, and that marked-out man,
That must this day act the tragedian,
To wonder and affrightment: thou art he
Whom all the flux of nations comes to see;
Not those poor thieves that act their parts with thee:
Those act without regard, when once a king,
And God, as thou art, comes to suffering.
No, no, this scene from thee takes life and sense,
And soul and spirit, plot and excellence.
Why then begin, great king! Ascend thy throne,
And thence proceed to act thy passïon
To such a height, to such a period raised,
As hell, and Earth, and heaven may stand amazed.
God and good angels guide thee; and so bless
Thee in thy several parts of bitterness
That those who see thee nailed unto the tree
May, though they scorn thee, praise and pity thee.
And we, thy lovers, while we see thee keep
The laws of action, will both sigh and weep,
And bring our spices to embalm thee dead:
That done, we'll see thee sweetly burièd.