An Old Conspiracy.

They met in haste, they met with guile,1
Old Hanan mumbling thro’ his beard,2
Proud Pilate with a weary smile,3
And Herod trembling to have heard,4
And Caiaphas, the man of sin,5
Arch-leader of the Sanhedrin.6
They closed the doors, the soldier stood,7
They asked him of the Crucified :8
Stained with the water and the blood9
His spear was leaned against his side,10
And he had felt the body cold11
That Joseph in fine linen rolled.12
Now swear thee, dog, thou did’st not break13
The legs of Him who hung with three14
Worst malefactor—for the sake15
Of bribe to set this Jesus free ;16
Thy spear but grazed, it gave no wound,17
Swear that the Christ not died, but swooned.”18
Cæsar, I swear !” the soldier said ;19
But all the world that came to see20
Knows well this Christ was good as dead21
Before we nailed Him to the tree ;22
He drank no cup to dull the pain,23
Who swears He swooned but swears in vain.”24
Then crafty Caiaphas began :25
Nay, sirs, he died, talk not of swound,26
Nacdimon is a careful man,27
He would not waste a hundred pound28
To spice a body but in faint29
And save it from corruption’s taint.30
Say, ‘ While the watch lay right and left,31
Deep-drugged, friends came, the seal was broke,32
Rolled the great stone far up its cleft,33
And as this poor Pretender spoke34
Made Him arise the promised day35
And bore His corpse by stealth away.’36
Better this word than as at first,37
With larger moneys spread the tale,38
For that wild fisher, mad, accursed,39
Doth with the people much prevail,40
And dares the priests pring forth the Lord41
Unrisen, and so make vain His word.”42
There Pilate smiled : “ The people know43
Your priests were fearful he should rise ;44
Peter’s bold challenge doth allow45
No answer but your craven lies.46
Methinks it doth more Roman seem47
To say, Christ comes, but comes in dream.48
Mine own wife Procula, who sent49
To bid me nothing have to do50
With that just man and innocent,51
Has dreamed she sees Him come and go.52
Down the deep Tyropæan way53
He seemed to walk this very day.”54
Ah, how that fox’s face grew white55
That Idumæan Sadducee,56
Dreams cannot hurt us though they fright ;57
Yea, let Him come in dream to me58
And do the marvels he refused59
When in mine hall he stood accused.”60
Thereon the soldier blunt replied,61
Master, I know one who hath thrust62
His hand into that Vision’s side,63
And I have heard from him I trust64
That this same dream can break wheat-bread,65
And by the food of men be fed.66
Yea, and speak words so men may hear,67
Talks Galilæan roughly still,68
But like a dream doth disappear,69
Appears, when doors are closed, at will.70
Walked to Emmaus without pain,71
Though feet were pierced as plain as plain.”72
Lo, even as he ended came73
A sigh of silence on the air,74
And—with his wondrous eyes aflame75
For love, not hate, the Christ was there !76
None spake ; thereafter nought was said77
Of Christ, dream, risen, swooned, or dead.78