African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

Olivia Ward Bush Banks, "The Walk to Emmaus" (1899)


'Twas eventide. Along the dusty road
  Two weary travelers passed with aching feet
And heavy hearts, while each in saddened tones
  The story of their Lord would oft repeat.
We yearn for Him, and is it not three days
  Since first He lay within the silent tomb?
Yet when we hastened to His resting place,
  Our Lord had gone; His grave was wrapt in gloom.

Communing thus, these weary travelers went.
  Their hearts oppressed by mingled doubt and fear;
When lo! along the road to Emmaus
  Their Lord, the risen Christ Himself, drew near.

With gentle voice He asked of them their grief,–
  "Why are ye sad? and O, what troubleth thee?"
They knew not that the loving Master spoke,
  Their eyes were holden, that they could not see.

And one replied: "We know not where He is,–
  Our Lord, who promised Israel to redeem.
Art thou a stranger in Jerusalem?
  And knowest not what marvelous things have been?"

Then Jesus spoke. "Why are ye show of heart?
  Did not the prophets in the days of old
Proclaim that Christ must die and live again,
  That ye His wondrous power might behold?"

Their hearts were touched; the Master's thrilling words
  Dispelled their fears and cleared their darkened sight.
And while the Holy Scriptures He declared,
  There came sweet peace and filled their souls with light.

The Master ceased, and now the journey o'er
  He still would further go along the road.
But they constrained Him, saying: "Tarry here;
  Abide with us and enter our abode."

He deigned to pass within that humble home,
  His holy presence filled the place with light;
He sat at meat and brake and blessed the bread,
  And ere they know it vanished from their sight.

They said, with gladdened hearts, "It is our Lord,
  Our risen Christ for whom we long have yearned;
We knew Him not when walking by the way,
  And yet our hearts within us sweetly burned.

O Christian! walking o'er Life's rugged road,
  Thou too, like His disciples, oft shall say,–
"Did not our hearts within us sweetly burn
  When Jesus talked with us beside the way?"

Published in "Original Poems" (1899)

This page has tags: