She sitteth at the Master's feet
In motionless employ;
Her ears, her heart, her soul complete
Drinks in the tide of joy.
Ah! who but she the glory knows
Of life, pure, high, intense,
In whose eternal silence blows
The wind beyond the sense!
In her still ear, God's perfect grace
Incarnate is in voice;
Her thoughts, the people of the place,
Receive it, and rejoice.
Her eyes, with heavenly reason bright,
Are on the ground cast low;
His words of spirit, life, and light--
They set them shining so.
But see! a face is at the door
Whose eyes are not at rest;
A voice breaks on divinest lore
With petulant request.
"Master," it said, "dost thou not care
She lets me serve alone?
Tell her to come and take her share."
But Mary's eyes shine on.
She lifts them with a questioning glance,
Calmly to him who heard;
The merest sign, she'll rise at once,
Nor wait the uttered word.
His "Martha, Martha!" with it bore
A sense of coming nay;
He told her that her trouble sore
Was needless any day.
And he would not have Mary chid
For want of needless care;
The needful thing was what she did,
At his feet sitting there.
Sure, joy awoke in her dear heart
Doing the thing it would,
When he, the holy, took her part,
And called her choice the good!
Oh needful thing, Oh Mary's choice,
Go not from us away!
Oh Jesus, with the living voice,
Talk to us every day!
Not now the living words are poured
Into one listening ear;
For many guests are at the board,
And many speak and hear.
With sacred foot, refrained and slow,
With daring, trembling tread,
She comes, in worship bending low
Behind the godlike head.
The costly chrism, in snowy stone,
A gracious odour sends;
Her little hoard, by sparing grown,
In one full act she spends.
She breaks the box, the honoured thing!
See how its riches pour!
Her priestly hands anoint him king
Whom peasant Mary bore.
* * * * *
Not so does John the tale repeat:
He saw, for he was there,
Mary anoint the Master's feet,
And wipe them with her hair.
Perhaps she did his head anoint,
And then his feet as well;
And John this one forgotten point
Loved best of all to tell.
'Twas Judas called the splendour waste,
'Twas Jesus said--Not so;
Said that her love his burial graced:
"Ye have the poor; I go."
Her hands unwares outsped his fate,
The truth-king's felon-doom;
The other women were too late,
For he had left the tomb.