Mary Elizabeth Coleridge

(23 September 1861 – 25 August 1907)

‘He came unto His own, and His own received Him not’ Poem by Mary Elizabeth Coleridge


As Christ the Lord was passing by,
He came, one night, to a cottage door.
He came, a poor man, to the poor;
He had no bed whereon to lie.

He asked in vain for a crust of bread,
Standing there in the frozen blast.
The door was locked and bolted fast.
‘Only a beggar!’ the poor man said.

Christ the Lord went further on,
Until He came to a palace gate.
There a king was keeping his state,
In every window the candles shone.

The king beheld Him out in the cold.
He left his guests in the banquet-hall.
He bade his servants tend them all.
‘I wait on a Guest I know of old.’

‘’Tis only a beggar-man!’ they said.
‘Yes,’ he said; ‘it is Christ the Lord.’
He spoke to Him a kindly word,
He gave Him wine and he gave Him bread.

Now Christ is Lord of Heaven and Hell,
And all the words of Christ are true.
He touched the cottage, and it grew;
He touched the palace, and it fell.

The poor man is become a king.
Never was man so sad as he.
Sorrow and Sin on the throne make three,
He has no joy in mortal thing.

But the sun streams in at the cottage door
That stands where once the palace stood.
And the workman, toiling to earn his food,
Was never a king before.

Submitted: Thursday, January 1, 2004

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