The Thief On The Cross

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Three crosses rose on Calvary against the iron sky,
Each with its living burden, each with its human cry.
And all the ages watched there, and there were you and I.
One bore the God incarnate, reviled by man's disdain,
Who through the woe he suffered for our eternal gain
With joy of infinite loving assuaged his infinite pain.
On one the thief repentant conquered his cruel doom,
Who called at last on Christ and saw his glory through the gloom.
For him after the torment souls of the blest made room.

And one the unrepentant bore, who his harsh fate defied.
To him, the child of darkness, all mercy was denied;
Nailed by his brothers on the cross, he cursed his God and died.
Ah, Christ, who met in Paradise him who had eyes to see,
Didst thou not greet the other in hell's black agony ?
And if he knew thy face, Lord, what did he say to thee?

© Harriet Monroe