The Look by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
The Savior looked on Peter. Ay, no word,
No gesture of reproach; the Heavens serene
Though heavy with armed justice, did not lean
Their thunders that way: the forsaken Lord
Looked only, on the traitor. Non record
What that look was, none guess; for those who have seen
Wronged lovers loving through a death-pang keen,
Or pale-cheeked martyrs smiling to a sword,
Have missed Jehovah at the judgment-call.
And Peter, from the height of blasphemy—
‘I never knew this man’—did quail and fall
As knowing straight THAT GOD; and turned free
And went out speechless from the face of all
And filled the silence, weeping bitterly.
The Meaning of the Look by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
I think that look of Christ might seem to say—
“Thou Peter! art thou then a common stone
Which I at last must break my heart upon
For all God’s charge to his high angels may
Guard my foot better? Did I yesterday
Wash thy feet, my beloved, that they should run
Quick to deny me ‘neath the morning sun?
And do thy kisses, like the rest, betray?
The cock crows coldly.—GO, and manifest
A late contrition, but no bootless fear!
For when they final need is dreariest,
Thou shalt not be denied, as I am here;
My voice to God and angels shall attest,
Because I KNOW this man, let him be clear.”