The Stranger and His Friend
<poem> THE STRANGER AND HIS FRIEND
"Ye have done it unto me." — Matt. xxv. 40.
A POOR wayfaring Man of grief Hath often cross'd me on my way, Who sued so humbly for relief, That I could never answer "Nay:" I had not power to ask his name, Whither he went, or whence he came, Yet was there something in his eye That won my love, I knew not why.
Once, when my scanty meal was spread, He enter'd ;—not a word he spake;— Just perishing for want of bread; I gave him all; he bless'd it, brake, And ate,—but gave me part again; Mine was an Angel's portion then, For while I fed with eager haste, That crust was manna to my taste.
I spied him, where a fountain burst Clear from the rock; his strength was gone; The heedless water mock'd his thirst, He heard it, saw it hurrying on: I ran to raise the sufferer up; Thrice from the stream he drain'd my cup, Dipt, and return'd it running o'er ; I drank, and never thirsted more.
'T was night; the floods were out; it blew A winter hurricane aloof; I heard his voice abroad, and flew To bid him welcome to my roof; I warm'd, I clothed, I cheer'd my guest, Laid him on my own couch to rest; Then made the hearth my bed, and seem'd In Eden's garden while I dream'd.
Stript, wounded, beaten, nigh to death, I found him by the highway-side: I roused his pulse, brought back his breath, Revived his spirit, and supplied Wine, oil, refreshment; he was heal'd; —I had myself a wound conceal'd; But from that hour forgot the smart, And Peace bound up my broken heart.
In prison I saw him next, condemn'd To meet a traitor's doom at morn; The tide of lying tongues I stemm'd, And honor'd him 'midst shame and scorn: My friendship's utmost zeal to try, He ask'd if I for him would die; The flesh was weak, my blood ran chill, But the free spirit cried, "I will."
Then in a moment to my view The Stranger darted from disguise; The tokens in his hands I knew, My Saviour stood before mine eyes: He spake; and my poor name He named; "Of me thou hast not been ashamed: These deeds shall thy memorial be; Fear not, thou didst them unto Me."
Scarborough, December, 1826.