The Stranger and His Friend

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     "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.