The cycles, with their long shadows, have stalk'd silently
Since those ancient days many a
pouch enwrapping mean
Its fee, like that paid for the son of Mary.
And still goes one, saying,
"What will ye give me, and I will deliver this man unto
And they make the
covenant, and pay the pieces of silver.
Look forth, deliverer,
Look forth, first-born of the dead,
Over the tree-tops of Paradise;
See thyself in yet
Toilsome and poor, thou bear'st man's form again,
Thou art reviled, scourged, put into
Hunted from the arrogant equality of the rest;
With staves and swords throng the willing servants
Again they surround thee, mad with devilish spite;
Toward thee stretch the hands of a multitude,
The meanest spit in thy face, they smite thee with their
Bruised, bloody, and
pinion'd is thy body,
More sorrowful than death is thy soul.
Witness of anguish, brother of slaves,
Not with thy price closed the price of thine image:
And still Iscariot
plies his trade.
Suddenly, out of its stale and drowsy air, the air of slaves,
Like lightning Europe le'pt forth,
As Ahimoth, brother of Death.
God, 'twas delicious!
That brief, tight, glorious grip
throats of kings.
You liars paid to defile the People,
Mark you now:
Not for numberless agonies, murders, lusts,
For court thieving in its manifold mean forms,
from his simplicity the poor man's wages;
For many a promise sworn by royal lips
And broken, and laughed
at in the breaking;
Then, in their power, not for all these,
Did a blow fall in personal revenge,
Or a hair
draggle in blood:
The People scorned the ferocity of kings.
But the sweetness of mercy brewed bitter destruction,
And frightened rulers come back:
in state, with his train,
Hangman, priest, and tax-gatherer,
Soldier, lawyer, and sycophant;
procession of locusts,
And the king struts grandly again.
Yet behind all, lo, a Shape
Vague as the night, draped interminably,
Head, front and form, in scarlet folds,
face and eyes none may see,
Out of its robes only this,
The red robes, lifted by the arm,
One finger pointed
high over the top,
Like the head of a snake appears.
Meanwhile, corpses lie in new-made graves,
Bloody corpses of young men;
The rope of the gibbet hangs
The bullets of tyrants are flying,
The creatures of power laugh aloud:
And all these things bear
fruits, and they are good.
Those corpses of young men,
Those martyrs that hang from the gibbets,
Those hearts pierced by the
Cold and motionless as they seem,
Live elsewhere with undying vitality;
They live in other young
men, O, kings,
They live in brothers, again ready to defy you;
They were purified by death,
taught and exalted.
Not a grave of those slaughtered ones,
But is growing its seed of freedom,
In its turn
to bear seed,
Which the winds shall carry afar and resow,
And the rain nourish.
Not a disembodied spirit
the weapon of tyrants let loose,
But it shall stalk invisibly over the earth,
Whispering, counselling, cautioning.
Liberty, let others despair of thee,
But I will never despair of thee:
Is the house shut? Is the master away?
be ready, be not weary of watching,
He will surely return; his messengers come anon.