Taken from his prose work “The Town of Lucca” from his Travel Pictures IV (1831), collected here:
“So all day long until the sun went down
they spent in feasting, and the measured feast
matched well their hearts’ desire.
So did the flawless harp held by Apollo
and heavenly songs in choiring antiphon
that all the Muses sang. [taken by Heine from the Vulgate]
“Then suddenly a pale, bloodstained Jew came panting in, with a crown of thorns on his head and a great wooden cross over his shoulder; and he threw the cross on to the gods’ high table, so that the golden goblets trembled, and the gods fell silent and turned pale, and became paler and paler, till at last they entirely dissolved into mist.
“… Anyone who sees his god suffering finds it easier to endure his own pain. The merry gods of the past, who felt no pain, did not know either how poor tortured human beings feel, and a poor person in desperation could have no real confidence in them. They were holiday gods; people danced around them merrily, and could only thank them. For this reason they never received whole-hearted love. To receive whole-hearted love one must suffer. Compassion is the last sacrament of love; it may be love itself. Therefore of all the gods who ever lived, Christ is the god who has been loved the most.”