Tabb’s Poetry XII


Good Friday

Behold in every crimson glow
   Of earth and sky and sea,
The Hand that fashioned them doth show
   Love crucified for me. 

Seeming Failure

O wave upon the strand!
   What urges thee in vain
To lift the baffled hand
   In suppliance again?

“The passion that impels
   The tidal energies
In every bud that swells,
   In every soul that sighs:

“The same that on the cross
   Sustained the dying Christ,
When Love for seeming Loss
   Alone was sacrificed.” 


In patience as in labor must thou be
         A follower of Me,
Whose hands & feet, when most I wrought for thee,
         Were nailed unto a tree. 

On Calvary

In the shadow of the rood
Love and Shame together stood;
Love, that bade Him bear the blame
Of her fallen sister Shame;
Shame, that by the pangs thereof
Bade Him break His heart for Love.
The Tollmen

   Lo, Silence, Sleep, and Death
   Await us on the way,
To take of each the tribute breath
   That God himself did pay.

   Nor Solomon’s as great,
   Nor Caesar’s strong control,
As his who sits beside his gate
   To take of each the toll.

John B. Tabb



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“Good Friday”: Father Tabb, p. 199; Poetry, p. 344. Undated. Good Friday is the day the Lord Jesus was crucified and died, and the day on which those events are commemorated each year; see, for instance, Matthew 27:1-61.

“Seeming Failure”: Father Tabb, p. 196; Poetry, p. 118. May 1903. The strand is the beach. Baffled means thwarted.

“Helplessness”: Later Poems, p. 32; Poetry, p. 341. December 1903.

“On Calvary”: Lyrics, p. 121; Poetry, p. 226. April 1895. Calvary is the hill near Jerusalem on which the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified; the word comes from Calvarius, Latin for the Hebrew Golgotha; see Matthew 27:33. A rood is a cross.

“The Tollmen”: Lyrics, p. 19; Poetry, p. 123. April 1896. Tollmen are those who collect tolls, as on highways and bridges. The first nor in the second stanza should be understood as neither. Solomon, son of King David, was a king of Israel; see the Books of Kings and of Chronicles in the Old Testament. Caesar was the title of Roman emperors. The meaning of the second stanza would seem to be this: neither the strong control of Solomon nor of Caesar is as great as that of Silence, Sleep, and Death.


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