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{The Wandering Jew 1893}





‘IN the name of all men I arraign this Man,
Named Jesus, son of Joseph, and self-styled
The Son of God!
                             ‘Born in the East, the child
Of Jewish parents, toiling for their bread,
He grew to manhood, following, it is said,
His father’s humble trade of carpentry;
But hearing one day, close to Galilee,
One John, a madman, in the desert crying,
Baptising all who came and prophesying,
This Jesus also long’d to prophesy;
And lo! ere very many days went by,
He left his tools, forsook his native town,
And for a season wandered up and down
On idle preaching bent. Now, as we know,
Madness and Falsehood wedded are, and grow
With what they breed; so the Accused ere long,                                   51
Finding his audience fit, his rivals strong
(For prophets in those realms were thick as bees),
Began to invent such fables as might please
The ears of ignorant wonder-seeking men,
And finding ’mong the Jewish race just then
The wild old prophecy of a Christ and King,
Destined to lead the race, still lingering,
He threw the royal raiment ready made
On his bare back, and blasphemously played
The Christ they craved for!—next, to clinch his claim,
And prove his Godhead not an empty name,
The Man wrought miracles, calling to his aid
Simple devices of the wizard’s trade,
Healing the sick—nay, even, ’twas avowed,
Bidding a dead man quicken in his shroud!
Pass over that as idle—turn with me
To the completion of his infamy!
In time, when he had sown with such false seed
Rank madness broadcast like an evil weed,
Choking the wholesome fields of industry,                                            52
And setting all the fiends of folly free,
This Jesus, with great numbers following,
Rides to Jerusalem like any King,
And thronèd on an ass goes thro’ the Gate.
Arrived within the City, he keeps his state
With publicans and harlots, vaunts abroad
His proud vocation as the Son of God,
And last, presuming on his pride of place,
Profanes the Holy Temple of the race.
The rest we know—they slew him, as was right,
Set him upon a Cross in all men’s sight,
Then, lastly, buried him. And now ’twas thought
The Man had made amends; the ill he wrought
Died with him, since his foolish race was run.

Not so; the Man’s black crime had scarce begun!                                [l.xvi]

For on the Sabbath day, as scribes aver,
Three Women, watching by his Sepulchre,
Beheld the stone roll’d back, and in the gloom                                     53
Beyond, a cast-off shroud and empty tomb!
The Man had risen, and that very day
Appeared among the faithful far away,
Spake, vanish’d, and was never after seen
By those who knew him, loved him, and had been
His life-long followers.’

                                       Now, hear and heed—
Had this Man, like the rest of Adam’s seed,
Rested within his grave, turned back to dust,
Accepted dissolution, as were just,
Well had it been for him and all man’s race!

He rose, this Jew—but in what secret place
He for a season hid his evil head
We know not; followers of his tribe have said
He walked with bleeding feet dejectedly
The lava shores of Hell (if Hell there be!),
Pondering his plan to lead the world astray—
But after sundry years had past away                                                 54 [l.i]
Mortals began to see in divers lands
A Phantom pale with piercèd feet and hands
Who cried, ‘I am the Christ—believe on me—
Or lose your Souls alive eternally!’
And of those men a few believed, and cried
‘Lo! Christ is God, and God we crucified!
But He shall come to judge the Quick and Dead!’

Now, mark the issue. Where this rumour spread,
All other gentle gods that gladden’d Man
Faded and fled away: the priests of Pan,
That singing by Arcadian rivers rear’d
Their flowery altars, wept and disappeared;
And men forgot the fields and the sweet light,
Joy, and all wonders of the day and night,
All splendours of the sense, all happy things,
Art, and the happy Muses’ ministerings,
Forgot that radiant house of flesh divine
Wherein each Soul is shut as in a shrine,
Because this Phantom, like a shape in sleep,                                       55
Showing his red wounds, murmur’d, ‘Pray! and weep!’
And when fair Earth, mother of things of clay,
The gladsome Mother, now grown gaunt and grey,
Cried to her children, ‘Children, stay with me!
I made you happy, innocent, and free!
Although this Man, my latest born, your brother,
Casts dust in the living eyes of me, his mother,
Follow him not, forsake me not, but stay!’
They too, because He beckon’d, turned away,
Or cursing her who bare them, they too shed
Dust in her eyes, dishonour on her head.

First, in her name, the Mother of all our race,
Whom this unfilial hand smote in the face,
Whom he defamed and shamed with cheats and lies,
And taught a thousand children to despise,
I demand justice on her Son, this Jew!—

Pass on. The rumour of his godhead grew;
Yea, men were conscious of a Presence sad,                                       56
Crownèd with thorns, in ragged raiment clad,
Haunting the sunless places of the Earth;
And mystic legends of his heavenly birth,
His many miracles, his piteous death,
Were whisper’d by the faithful underbreath;                                        []
And wights grown sick from tearfullest despairs,
And many weary souls worn out with cares,
Sick men and witless, all who had assailed
The gleaming heights of Happiness and failed,
But chiefly women bruised and undertrod,
Believed this Man indeed the Son of God,—
Because he said, ‘the high shall be estranged,                                     [l.xiii]
The low uplifted, and the weak avenged,
And blest be those who have cast this world away
To await the dawning of my Judgment Day!’
And straightway many yielded up their lives,
Blasphemed their bodies, gash’d their flesh with knives,
In attestation that these things were true.
And I deny not that to some, a few
Poor Souls without a hope, without a friend,                                       57
The lie brought comfort and a peaceful end;
Nor (to be just to him we judge, even him,
This Jew, whose presence makes the glad World dim)
That often to the martyr in his prison
He went and whisper’d ‘Comfort! I am risen;’
Nor that to sickbeds sad, as Death came near,
He stole with radiant face and whisper’d cheer,
And to the Crucified brought secretly
The vinegar and sponge of Charity!

Yet in the name of those who died for Him,
Self-slain, or by the beasts rent limb from limb,
Who in his Name with calm unbated breath
Went smiling down the dark descent of Death,
Who went because He beckon’d with bright hand
Out of the mirage of a heavenly Land,
I demand justice on their Christ, this Jew!

Pass on. From land to land the tidings flew
That Christ was God, and that the World was doom’d!                        58
Then droopt the lilies of delight, then bloom’d
The martyr’s rose of blood; Kings on their thrones
Cast down their crowns and crawled with piteous moans
To the baptismal font where Priests, grown bold,
Held high the crucifix wrought round with gold.
And soon (how swiftly seeds of evil spring!)
They set a Priest on High and crowned him King,
Yea, King of all earth’s Kings, and next to Christ!
There reign’d he, at his will the realms were priced,
And each, grown blind to worldly gain and loss,
Paid tribute to the King and to the Cross.
Behind that King, this Phantom most forlorn
Kept watch, from morn to night, from night to morn;
And countless Temples rose into the air,
Golden and vast and marvellously fair,
And artists wrought on canvas and on stone
Strange images of Christ upon His Throne
Judging the World; and voices filled each land:
‘Rejoice—the heavenly Kingdom is at hand;’
And for a space indeed, so well he feign’d,                                        59
It seem’d that Christ had conquer’d Death, and reigned.

The triumph passed. The poison of the Lie
Spread, as all foul things spread beneath the sky;
And presently, the time being ripe at last,
From shrine to shrine this pallid Phantom passed
Whispering, ‘My Word hath grown a wingèd fire,
Yet thousands doubt me and blaspheme the Sire—
See ye to this, O Priests! seek the abhorred
And judge them, with your Master’s Flame and Sword.’

Look, where the culprit croucheth in his place,
Blood on his hands, and terror in his face!
Aye, glue your gaze upon him, while I tell
Of damnèd deeds and thoughts befitting Hell! . . . .
They went abroad, his Priests, like wolves that scent
Lambs in the fields, and slew the innocent;
The holy Shepherds who in places green
To Isis sang and Thammuz songs serene
They found and slaughter’d, till their red blood ran                               60
In torrents down the streams Egyptian;
The gentle Souls who loved their mother Earth,
And wept because she had given the Monster birth,
They cast in cruel fire, and sacrificed
To appease the blood-thirst of this Jew, their Christ!
From land to land, from sea to sea, they fled,
And where they went the plains were strewn with dead.
Then, when all men knelt down and cried in pain
‘Hosannah to the Lord—for Christ doth reign,’
When no man doubted, since he dared not doubt
Because of fiends that ringed him roundabout,
When no man breath’d in his own dwelling-house,
They paused a little time and held carouse,
With full cups pledging Christ; but mark the rest!
While they in triumph revelled east and west,
He past ’mong them, his chosen, and distilled                                      [l.xvii]
A fatal poison in the cups they filled,
And when thro’ vein and thew the poison crept,
Like wolves upon each other’s throats they leapt,                                61
Rending each other in their Master’s sight.

Next, in the name of Love and Love’s delight,
And in the name of pagans blest and blind
Who loved the old gods best for they were kind,
Of virgins who despite the fire and sword
Shrank from this Scourge and called on God the Lord,
Of haggard men who dared not draw their breath
Because they deem’d this man, not Christ, but Death;
Yea, in the name of his own Priests profaned
Because they did his bidding, and he reigned,
I demand justice on their Christ, this Jew.

Nay, listen yet. The dark corruption flew
Like loathsome pestilence from land to land;
From every Altar, raised at his command,
Blood dript like dew; grown mad with pride and scorn
His Priests cast off the masks that they had worn,
And ’neath the Cross, within the very shrines,
Held hideous revel with their concubines,
Flaunted before their silent Christ thorn-crowned                                62
The emblems of Priapus, and around
Danced naked, with lewd songs and signs obscene;
Then the bald monk, upon the convent green,
Rolled with the harlot; then the King of Priests
In the very Shrine did lewdness worse than beast’s,
While Incest and foul Lusts without a name
Crawl’d in His temples, and he felt no shame.
For when the people murmur’d, Priests and Kings
Made answer, ‘Be at peace, ye underlings!
Since ’tis enough to deem that Christ is Lord,
To adore his symbols and to wield his sword,
And all our deeds, tho’ black as blackest night,
Are vindicated in our Master’s sight!’
Oh, God that madest Man, if God there be,
Didst make these things, didst hear this blasphemy?
No writing on the wall disturbed the feasts
Of pathic Popes and leprous, lechrous Priests?                                   [l.xviii]
This Man with falsehoods seventy times seven
Defamed Thy world, and Thou wast dumb in Heaven!

Now, in the name of vestals sacrificed                                                 63
To feed the lust of those same priests of Christ,
Of acolyte children tangled in the mesh
Of infamous and nameless filths of flesh,
In the name of those whom King and Priest and Pope
Cast down to dust, beyond all peace and hope,
Yea, in their names who made this Man their guide,
And curst by men, by him were justified,
I demand justice on their Christ, this Jew!

Pass on. With cruel pitiless hand he drew
A curtain o’er the azure Heavens above,
Hiding the happy Light, darkening the love
Which kept life clean and whole; so that in time
The very smile of Life became a crime
Against his Godhead!—Brother turn’d from brother,
The father smote his child, the son his mother,
And every fire that made home warm and sweet
Was trampled into ashes ’neath his feet.
Then cried he, ‘Life itself is shame and sin!                                          64
Break ye all human ties, and ye shall win
My Realm beyond the grave!’ and as he cried,
Mortals cast ashes on their heads and died,
The virgin deem’d that Love’s own kiss defiled,
The mother’s milk was poison’d for the child,
The father, worse than beasts who love their young,
Cast to the wolves the little ones who clung
Crying around his neck; the Anchorite
Turn’d from the sunshine and the starry light
And hid his head in ordures of self-prayer;
The naked Saint loomed black against the air
Upon his tower of Famine; and for the sake
Of this Man’s promise, and the Lie he spake,
Nature itself became a blight and ban!
Nay, more! thro’ all the world corruption ran
As from a loathsome corpse—in every clime
Disease and Pestilence did shed their slime,
Till human Life, once clean and pure and free,
Shrank ’neath the serpent-scales of Leprosy!

Now in the name of Life defiled and scorn’d,                                       65
Of hearts that broke because this Phantom warn’d,
Of weary mothers desolately dying
For sons whose hearts were hardened to their crying,
Of wives made husbandless and left unblest,
Of little children starving for the breast,
Of homes made desolate from sea to sea
Because he said ‘Leave all, and follow me,’
I demand justice on their Christ, this Jew!

He reign’d where Peace had reign’d!—and no man knew
The World wherein he dwelt, nor sought to guess
The holy laws of Light and Happiness;
Yea, from our sight the beauteous Heavens were veil’d
And the Earth under them, while yet Man trail’d
His self-wrought chain across the fruitless lands
And tore his own pure flesh with impious hands.
Then from the depths of sorrow pale men came,
Who climb’d the heights and lit thereon the flame
Which scatter’d darkness and illumed the skies,
And on the stars they fixed their starry eyes                                        66
And measured their progressions, crying aloud
‘This Phantom of the Christ is but a cloud
Veiling the glory of the Infinite?’                                                          [l.iv]
What then? His creatures found them in the night
And smote them down, and with a fouler fire
Made for their martyred bones a funeral pyre
That did proclaim his glory and their despair!
Even thus the Martyr, Man, once the glad heir
Of Earth and Heaven, made with eyes to see
And sense to comprehend his Destiny,
Was bound and render’d blind, until he fell
To Darkness dimly lit by lights of Hell,
And there, bereft and desolate of all
That made him free, he felt his dungeon wall
And wail’d on God; and lo, at this man’s nod,
His Priests and Kings appear’d, instead of God,
Saying ‘Bow down, thou Slave, and cease thy strife,
Confessing on thy knees that Death is Life,
And Darkness, Light!’—and to his mouth they thrust
Their cruel Cross, defiled with blood and dust;                                    67
And when he had testified in all men’s sight
That Death was Life and Darkness heavenly Light,
Forth to the fire the shuddering wretch was brought,
And slaughter’d to the Lie themselves had taught.

Now, in their names, the Souls of priceless worth,
Who glorified the lights of Heaven and Earth,
Who fathom’d Nature’s secret star-sown ways
And read the law of Life with fearless gaze,
Yet, for reward, with fire were shrivell’d up,
Or poison’d by the fatal hemlock-cup,
I demand doom and justice on this Jew!

Pass o’er the rest—the countless swarms he slew
To appease his lust for life in every land;
The happy Nations stricken by his hand
With Famine or with Pestilence;—the horde
Of butchering Tyrants and of Priests abhorred
Who fatten’d on the flesh and blood of men,
Because this Jew had died and risen again!                                         68
Come to the issue. Hear it, Jew, and know
Nature hath gather’d strength to lay thee low!
Humanity itself shall testify
Thy Kingdom is a Dream, thy Word a Lie,
Thyself a living canker and a curse
Upon the Body of the Universe!
For lo, at last, thy Judge, the Spirit of Man,
And I, his Acolyte since Time began,
Have taught thy brethren, things of clay like thee,
That all thy promise was a mockery;
That Fatherhood and Godhead there is none,
No Father in Heaven and in Earth no Son,
That Darkness never can be Light, that still
Death shall be Death, despite thy wish or will,
That Death alone can comfort souls bereaven
And shed on Earth the eternal sleep of Heaven.
Yet not until the weary world is free
Of all thy ghostly godhead, and of thee,
Shall he who stills all tumult and all pain
Unveil the happy Heavens once more, and reign!’                                69

He ceased, and Jesus heard, but made no sign.

Then, gazing sadly on that Man Divine,
He added, ‘Peace, and hearken yet, O Jew!
For what we come to judge, we pity too!
The blessèd sleep Death sheds from sea to sea,
Shared by thy brethren, may be shared by thee,
If he who sits in Judgment deems it well!’

While on those silent hosts his dark eyes fell,
And thro’ the Waves of Life that darkly roll’d
Around him, ran a tremor deathly cold,
He cried, ‘Awake, awake, for ’tis the time!
Appear, ye Witnesses of this Man’s crime!’


Alterations in the 1901 edition of The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Buchanan:
Part VII:
Page 52, l. xvi: ‘Not so; the Man’s black crime had scarce begun! [note: subsequent verse breaks begin with an inverted comma to denote the continuation of the speech. This convention is not followed in the original text.]
Page 54, l. i: But after sundry years had pass’d away
Page 56, l. xi: Were whisper’d by the faithful under breath;
Page 56, l. viii: Because he said, “The high shall be estranged,
Page 60, l. xvii: He pass’d ’mong them, his chosen, and distilled
Page 62, l. xviii: Of pathic Popes and lep’rous, lech’rous Priests!
Page 66, l. iv: Veiling the glory of the Infinite!”]






FIRST to the front a shrouded figure crept,
Gazed upon Jesus, hid his face, and wept,
Saying ‘What would ye? Wherefore am I taken
Out of the dark grave where I slept forsaken,
Forgetting all my heritage of woe?’

‘What Soul art thou?’

‘One Judas, named also Iscariot.’

         ‘Know’st thou the Accused?’

                                                         ‘Aye me,
In sooth I know him, to my misery!
I followed him, and I believed for long                                                71
That he was God indeed, serene and strong;
Then with an eager hunger famishing
To see his Kingdom and to hail him King,
I did betray him, thinking “when he stands                                           [l.v.]
Bound and condemn’d in the oppressor’s hands,
When Death comes near to drink his holy breath,
He will put forth his power and vanquish Death!”
But when I saw him conquer’d, crucified,
I hid my face in shame, then crept aside,                                              [l.x]
And in the Potter’s Field myself I hung.’

‘Now answer! Was thy spirit conscience-stung?
Having betrayed him, wherefore didst thou die?’

‘Because I knew his promise was a lie,
Because I knew the Man whom I had slain
Was not Messiah—Now, let me sleep again!’

‘Pass by. The next!’

                                   Forth stept before their sight                            72
A form so old, so wan and hoary white,
It seem’d another Christ, as old, as sad;
And he in antique raiment too was clad,
Ragged and wild and his white hair was strewn
Like snow around him ’neath the wintry Moon,
And by his side a lean she-bear there ran,
Gentle and tame, uplooking at the man
With piteous bleats, while his thin hand was spread
With touch as chill as ice upon its head.
When on the Accused this old Man turned his eyes
He shook and would have fled with feeble cries,
But a hand held him. Shivering and afraid,
He shrank and gazed upon the ground, but stay’d.

‘Thy name?’

                       ‘AHASUERUS. Far away,
Beyond the changes of the night and day,
In the bleak regions of the Frozen Zone,
Lit with auroral beams, I roamed alone,                                              73
When a voice called me, and behold I came.’

‘Look on the Accused. Know’st thou his Form and Name?’

‘Alack, I know him, as I know my doom—
To wander o’er the world without a tomb,
Alone, unpitied, hopeless, weak and wild . . .
Before my door I stood with wife and child
That weary moment when they led him by,
Bearing his heavy Cross of Wood, to die.
He would have rested at my dwelling place,
But knowing him blasphemer, branded base,
Taking the name of God in vain, I cried,
“If thou art God, now cast thy Cross aside,
And take thy Throne—if thou hast lied pass on!”
He turned on me his face all woe-begone,
And murmur’d faintly, as he crawl’d away,
Thou shalt not rest until my Judgment Day!                                       [l.xvii]
Till then walk on from sleepless year to year!”
He spake. That doom pursued me. I am here.’                                    74

‘Take comfort, brother. Tho’ thy wrongs are deep,
When this same Jew is judgèd thou shalt sleep.
Pass by.’

                   With feeble moan and weary pace
He went. Another stept into his place.

               ‘PILATE, to whose Roman judgment seat
They brought this Jew, casting him at my feet
And clamouring for his life. I smiled to see
So mad a thing usurping sovereignty,
And said, “O Jews, if so ye list, fulfil
The law, and spare or slay him as ye will—
The Roman wars not with such foes as he—
Upon your heads, not mine, this deed shall be.”
And ere to shameful Death the man was borne,
I turned aside and washed my hands in scorn
Of them and him!’

                                 ‘Pass on!’                                                        75
The Roman cast
One pitying look upon the Jew, and passed
Into the darkness.—As he sank from sight
There came in pale procession thro’ the night
Great Phantoms who the imperial robe did wear,
Sceptre in hand, and bayleaves in the hair,
Each lewd and horrible and infamous,
A monster, yet a man: Tiberius,
Sejanus, and the rest; and last of all
Came one who trode the earth with light foot-fall,
And sang with shrill voice to a golden lute;
And lo! a woman’s robe from head to foot
Enwrapt him, and his face was sickly white
With nameless infamies of lewd delight,
And on his beardless cheeks mine eyes could see
The hideous crimson paint of harlotry,
While, in a voice as any eunuch’s shrill,
He cried,
‘This Jew, their Christ, lay cold and still
Within his Sepulchre, and slept supine,                                                76
While I, the Antichrist, pour’d blood like wine
To appease my parasites and paramours!
Nay, more, before my shining palace-doors
And round the gardens of the feast, I placed
The naked forms of men and maidens chaste
Who worshipt him, and lit the same to be
The living torches of my revelry;
And all in vain, thus stript and sacrificed,
They called on Christ to conquer Antichrist!
In the amphitheatre I sat and smiled
On strong men martyred and on maids defiled;
Then clad myself in skins of beasts, and flew
To glut my lechery in all men’s view,
And ravenous-claw’d my bestial lust I fed
On shuddering flesh of virgins ravishèd.
And yet he rose not! Still and stark he lay.
God-like I reign’d, with a god’s power to slay,
Shame, sadden, gladden. To the old Gods I sang
My triumph-song that thro’ the nations rang
While Rome was burning! On my mother’s womb                                77
I thrust the impious heel! Yet from his tomb
This Jesus stirred not! God-like still, I died
By mine own hand, not shamed and crucified
As he, this Jew, had been!—He lives, ye say?
Poor Phantom of the Cross, forlorn and grey,
What shall his life avail? His day hath fled,
But other Antichrists uplift the head
And laugh, and cry “The reign of Christ is o’er!
Make merry!”—Yea, the Earth is his no more,
His Heaven a Dream, and where he wrought in vain
The harlot and the sodomite still reign!’

He spake, and with a shrill and cruel cry
Followed his brethren; in his track crept by
Pale ghostly Phantoms filleted or crown’d,
Imperial harlots with their zones unbound,
And haggard children clutch’d yet uncaress’d,
Rolling blind eyes and fighting for the breast;
And after these a throng of martyrs slain,
Bloody and maim’d and worn, who wail’d in pain,                              78
Fixing their piteous eyes on that pale Jew.

Crowd after crowd they passed, and passing threw
A curse or prayer on Him who anguish’d there
Crown’d with the calm of a divine despair,
And one by one he mark’d them come and go
While down his wrinkled cheeks deep-sunk in woe
The salt tears ran, and ever and anon
He hid his face so weary and woe-begone,
Or peering vaguely up into the Night
Pressèd his skinny hands together tight
And moan’d unto himself!


Alterations in the 1901 edition of The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Buchanan:
Part VIII:
Page 71, l. v: I did betray him, thinking “When he stands
Page 71, l. x: I hid my face in shame and crept aside,
Page 73, l. xvii: “Thou shalt not rest until my Judgment Day; ]





                               THEN saw I rise
A shape with broad bold brow and fearless eyes,
Behind him as he came a murmuring train
Of augurs, soothsayers, and armèd men,
With gentle priests of Ceres and of Pan.
‘Room there,’ they cried aloud, ‘for Julian!’
Bareheaded, helm in hand, he took his place
Before the Accused, a smile upon his face.

‘Thy name was JULIAN?’

                                           He answered, ‘Yes!
I wore the imperial robe in gentleness,                                                [l.xi]
And looking on the World around my throne
I heard the wretched weep, the weary moan,
Saw Nature sickening because this Man wrought
To scatter poison in the wells of Thought,                                           80
So that no Soul might live in peace and be
Baptised in wisdom and philosophy;
Wherefore I summoned from their lonely graves
The Spirits of the mountains and the waves,
The tutelary Sprites of flowers and trees,
The rough wild Gods and naked Goddesses,
And all alive with joy they leapt around
My leaf-hung chariot, to the trumpet’s sound!
Yea, and I wakened from ancestral night
The human shapes of Healing and of Light—
Asclepios with his green magician’s rod,
And Aristotle, Wisdom’s grave-eyed god,
And bade them teach the natural law and prove
The eternal verities of Life and Love.
What then? I fail’d. This Serpent could elude
My priests, however swiftly they pursued,
And since I warned them not to slay with steel
Nor bruise it cruelly beneath the heel,
It lived amid their very footprints, fed
On blood and tears, upraised the impious head,                                   81
Then last, still living on my day of doom,
Stung my pale corpse and coil’d upon my tomb!
Oh, had I guessed that mercy could not win
Blood from the stone, or change the Serpent’s skin,
That pity and loving kindness ne’er could gain
Foothold in Superstition’s black domain,
Then surely I the avenging sword had bared
And slain in mercy what I blindly spared!
’Twas but a spark! one stamp of foot, and lo!
The thing had perished! Fool, to let it grow!
So that it grew as such foul hell-fire can,
Spreading from City unto City of Man,
Turning this World of greenness and sweet breath
Into a charnel house of shameful Death.
The Galilean conquered as I threw
My last wild jet of life-blood to the blue,
Nature resigned her birth-right with a groan,
And Thought, like Niobe, was turn’d to stone!’

His legions shouted faintly as he cast                                                   82
One glance of scorn on the pale Jew and passed
To darkness. Following him, methought, there stalked
Aurelius, calmly musing as he walked,
With many another lesser King of clay,
Who paused and testified, then passed away;
So thick they came from out the troubled dark
My brain grew dizzy and I ceased to mark,
Until at last a marble Maiden rose,
Stript naked to the skin and bruised with blows,
Yet fair and golden-haired and azure-eyed
She stood erect with fearless gaze, and cried:

‘I was HYPATIA. Round my form fell free
The white robe of a wise virginity,
While in the fountains of the Past I sought
Strange pearls of Dream and dim Platonic thought.
Now, as I gazed therein, I saw full plain
The faces of dead Gods whom men had slain—
How fair they seemed! how gentle and how wise!
The Spirits of the gladsome earth and skies!                                       83
And lo, I loved them, and I lit anew
Their vestal lamps that men might love them too,
And so be passionately purified.
The rest ye know. Thro’ this same Jew I died.
Peter the Reader and his monkish throng
Found me and slew me, trail’d my limbs along
The streets, and left me, bloody, stark, and dead!’

I watch’d her as with slow and silent tread,
Erect tho’ naked, cloth’d with chaste cold Light
As is the virgin votaress of the Night,
She vanished in the darkness. Then for long
I marked the Witnesses in shadowy throng
Come, say their say, and go; from every side
They gathered one by one and testified,
And as they testified against the Jew
Creation darkened and the murmur grew!
Meantime the Accused stood listening, with his eyes
Fixed ever sadly on the far-off skies
Where flocks of patient stars moved slowly, driven                             84
By winds unseen to the dark folds of Heaven,—
And ever as his gaze upon it yearned
The blue Void quicken’d and new splendours burned,
And while the lights of all the stars were shed
As lustrous dew upon his hoary head,
He knelt and prayed!

                                     Then rose a mighty cry
Which shook the solid air and rent the sky,
And flowing thither came a countless crowd
Of women and of men who called aloud
‘Allah il Allah!’—Darkening under Heaven,
Like to the waves of Ocean tempest-driven,
Out of the midnight I beheld them come
Up to the Judgment seat and break to foam
Of dusky faces and of waving hands;
And many raised aloft great crookèd brands
And banners where the moonlike crescent burn’d.
Then dimly thro’ the darkness I discern’d
A stately turban’d King, who stood alone;                                          85
Around his form a prophet’s robe was thrown,
And in his hand he bore a scimitar
Unsheath’d and shining radiant like a star;
And on his head there shone a crescent gem,
Bright as the moon; and to his raiment hem
Clung women, naked, glorious-eyed, and fair,
Houris of Heaven with perfumed golden hair.
And the great Sea of Life, that raged and broke
Behind him, sank to silence as he spoke,
Awed by the gleam of his dark eyes; for lo!
He paused not, but moved onward proud and slow,
Saying, as past the Judgment Seat he strode,
‘This man cried, “I am Allah! very God!”
Yet helpless as a slaughter’d lamb he fell
Beneath the angry breath of Azraèl,
Great Allah’s Angel, sent to avenge his Lord!
But I, who raised alike the Cross and Sword,
In Allah’s name, his Prophet, was content
To avow myself the man by Allah sent
To do his will in proud humility.                                                          86
So men forgot this Jew, and turn’d to me,
Who on the desert-sands my flag unfurled
And wrought great miracles to amaze the world!
Upon the neck of Kings my foot was set,
And all the Nations knew me—MAHOMET!’

And at the name the echoing millions roar’d
‘Allah il Allah!—Mighty is the Lord!
Mahomet is his prophet!’ Cloud on cloud,
Wave following wave, with clash of tumult loud,
The mighty Sea of Lives passed onward, crying,
‘Allah il Allah!’ and ever multiplying;
And when the far-off western horizon
Was darkened yet with those who had come and gone,
Millions still came from the eastward, sweeping by
The Judgment Seat with that victorious cry;—
And endless seem’d the space of time until
The swarms had past, and all again was still,—                                   [l.xviii]
When, fronting the Accused, the Accuser cried:
‘Greater than this pale Jew men crucified                                            87
Was he whose mighty star, blood-red and bright,
Shines on the minarets of the Islamite!’

But as he spake, out of the East there came
One follow’d, too, with clangorous acclaim—
A human Shape, wrapt in white lamb-like wool,
Star-eyed and sad and very beautiful,—
A sceptre in his hand, and on his head
A crown of silver, brightly diamonded;
Who, flying swift as wind on veilèd feet,
Approach’d, and pausing at the Judgment seat,
             ‘Sleeping in my Sepulchre, wherein
I deem’d myself secure from sense and sin,
A voice disturbed me, and awakening,
I heard wild voices o’er the Nations ring,
Naming the names of lesser gods than I.
Deathless I pause, while all the rest pass by—
They taught them how to live, I taught them how to die!
Heir of the realms of sorrow and despair,                                            88
I, GAUTAMA, the BUDDHA, gently bare
The Lily, and not the Cross, and not the Sword,
And countless hailed me King and Lord!                                             [l.iv]
What voices break my rest? What impious strife
Stirreth my sleep and brings me back to life?—
Yea, plucks me from God’s breast, whereon I lay,
To take my place again ’mong Kings of clay,
Inheritors of Sorrow!’

                                                     Even as
He spake, the throngs who follow’d bent like grass
Wind-blown to worship him!

                                               With radiant head
He passed on, follow’d by the Quick and Dead.
And in that train I saw, or seem’d to see,
Other inheritors of Deity—
His Brethren, Gods or God-like, following:
Pale ZOROASTER, crownèd like a King;
MENÙ and MOSES, each with radiant look                                           89
Cast on the pages of an open Book;
CONFUCIUS, in a robe of saffron hue,
Enwrought with letters quaint of mystic blue;
PROMETHEUS, dragging yet his broken chain,
And gazing heavenward still, in beautiful disdain.

Ghostwise they testified and vanishèd,
These mighty spirits of the god-like Dead;
Some reverend and hoary, some most fair,
With brightness in their eyes and on their hair,
Each kingly in his place, and in his train
Souls of fair worshippers that Jew had slain.


Alterations in the 1901 edition of The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Buchanan:
Part IX:
Page 79, l. xi: I wore the Imperial robe in gentleness,
Page 86, l. xviii: The swarms had pass’d, and all again was still,—
Page 88, l. iv: And countless thousands hailed me King and Lord! ]





THEN, waiting on and watching thro’ the gloom,
I saw the glimmer of an open Tomb
Hewn in the mountain-side, and thence a band
Crown’d and tiara’d, each with Cross in hand,
Of woeful Phantoms issued, murmuring:
‘We were the Vicars of this Christ, our King!
And lo, he let us reign!—and sins like lice
Ran o’er us, while we sought with foul device
To cloak the living Lie on which we fed!’

And one cried: ‘As I lay upon my bed,
My leman at my side, mine hands still red
With mine own brother’s blood, they strangled me!’

And one laugh’d, ‘With this Cross as with a key
I open’d up the caves where Monarchs kept                                        91
Their secret gold!’
                               And one who wail’d and wept,
Yet could not speak, gaped with black jaws forlorn
To show the mouth whence the red tongue was torn.

And one said, ‘Murder was my handmaiden!
I made a Throne with bones of butcher’d men
And set her there, and in my Master’s name
Baptised her!’ And all those others cried again—
‘We were his Vicars, and he bade us reign!’

Back to the Tomb they crept with senile cries,
Mumbling with toothless gums and blinking eyes
Thick with the rheum of age!—and in their stead
Rose shapes of butcher’d Seers whose wounds still bled,
And some were clothen with consuming flame
As with a garment, crying as they came:
‘We saw all Nature blacken’d far and wide
Because this Jew was dead yet had not died,
For thro’ the world of broken hearts he went                                       92
Demanding blood and tears for sacrament,
Crowning the proud and casting down the just,
Lighting the altar-flames of Pride and Lust,
Calling the Deadly Sins accurst and dire
To be his acolytes and to feed the fire
Through which we perish’d; yet we testified
With all our Souls against him ere we died!’

O Night of terror! O dark suffering Night,
With wounded bleeding heart and great eyes bright
With starry portents and serene despairs!
I saw them, one by one, the ghostly heirs
Of Wisdom and of Woe, the Souls long fled
Who died like him, and like him are not dead,
The Great, the Just, the Good, who cannot die,
Because this piteous Phantom passeth by,
And when they fain would slumber, murmureth
‘Lo, Christ is God, and God hath vanquish’d Death!’

Like wave on wave they came, like cloud on cloud.

Before the Throne stood one wrapt in his shroud,                                 93
And bearing in his lean uplifted hand,
That shook but did not fall, a flaming Brand.
The Judge spake (while I dream’d who this might be)                          [l.iv]
‘Thy name?’
                       ‘GALILEO, of Italy,’
He answer’d; while two other shapes in white
Crept to him, on the left hand and the right.
‘These Brethren, standing side by side with me,
Wore the white raiment of Philosophy,
Yet died in anguish, butcher’d in Christ’s name.
He on my right hand, BRUNO, died by flame.
He on my left, CASTILIO, starved for bread.
We saw the Heavenly Book above us spread,
We pored upon its living lines of fire,
And saw therein the Name of God the Sire.
Upon us as we ponder’d, thought, and prayed,
Came this man’s Priests and Soldiers, and betrayed
Our Souls to torture and to infamy!’
‘’Tis well. Ye kept your Souls sublime and free,                                   94
And he who slew you waits for judgment there!’

Suddenly, with a shriek that rent the air,
Shadows on shadows throng’d around and cried:
We, too, were slain because we testified!
Our bones are scattered white in every land!
We pass’d the Fiery Torch from hand to hand;
Fast as one fell, another raised it high,
Till he in turn was smitten down to die.
Yet on, from clime to clime, from pole to pole,
It pass’d, and lit the Beacons of the Soul,
Till wheresoever men could gaze they saw
The fiery signs and symbols of the Law,
Older than God, which saith the Soul is free!’

The Accuser smiled, and rising quietly,
With ominous lifted hand, ‘O Judge,’ he cried,
‘If I should question all men who have died
Because this Jew once quickened in the sun,
Eternity would pass ere all was done.                                                  95
Enough to know, wherever men have striven
To read the open scrolls of Earth and Heaven,
Wherever in their sadness they have sought
To find the stainless flowers of lonely Thought,
Raising the herb of Healing and the bloom
Of Love and Joy, this Man from out his Tomb                                    [vii]
Hath stalk’d, and slaying the things their souls deem’d fair
Hath poison’d all their peace and stript them bare.
Century on century, as men count Time,
This man hath been a curse in every clime;
So that the World, once the glad home of men,
Hath been a prison and a lazar-den,
A place of darkness whence no Soul might dare
To seek the golden Earth and heavenly air,
Save fearfully, with panting lips apart,
Fearing the very throb of his own heart
As ’twere a death-knell; nay, this Jew set free
Disease and Pestilence and Leprosy
To crawl like loathsome monsters and destroy                                     96
Great Cities once alive with life and joy;
And of all foul things fouler than the beasts
Were this Man’s Servants and approven Priests,
Stenching the Cities wheresoe’er they trod,
Poisoning the fountains in the name of God.
Save for this Jew, a thousand years ago
Man might have known what he awakes to know—
The luminous House of flesh and blood most fair,
Rainbow’d from dust and water and sweet air,
The green Earth round it, and the Seas that roll
To cleanse the Earth from shining pole to pole,
The Heavens, and Heavens beyond without a bound,
The Stars in their processions glory-crown’d,
Each star so vast that it transcends our dreams,
So small, a child might grasp it, so it seems,
Like a light butterfly! The wondrous screed
Of Nature open lay for Man to read;
World flashed to world, in yonder Void sublime,
The messages of Light and Change and Time;
The Sea had voices, and the Spirit of Earth                                          97
Had sung her mystic runes of Death and Birth,
Of all the dim progressions Life had known,
And writ them on the rocks in words of stone;
Nay, Man’s own Soul was as a mirror, bright
With luminous changes of the Infinite!
And yet Man rested blind beneath the sky
Because this Jew said, ‘Close thine eyes, or die!’
Enough—pass onward one by one, ye throng
Who sinn’d thro’ Christ, or suffer’d shame and wrong;
Stay not to speak—your faces shall proclaim,
More loud than tongues, your martyrdom and shame!’

Ghostwise they passed along before my sight,
Martyrs of truth and warriors of the right,
Some reverend and hoary, some most fair
With sunrise in their eyes and on their hair.
So swift they came and fled, I scarce had space
To note them, but full many a world-famed face
Came like a breaking wave and went again:
JUSTINIAN, living, yet a corpse, as when                                            98
They tore him from his tomb; old, gaunt, and grey,
The Master of the Templars, DU MOLAY,
Clasp’d by the harlot, Fire,—follow’d by pale
And martyr’d warriors bleeding ’neath their mail;
ABELARD, still erect on stubborn knees
Facing the storms of Rome, and ELOISE
Clad like an abbess, from his eyes of fire
Drinking eternal passion and desire;
KING FREDERICK, his step serene and strong
As if he trod on altars, with his throng
Of warriors, Christian and Saracen;
White-robed and calm, with many a lesser man
Wrapt in the peace of lore Arabian;
Pale PETRARCH, laurel-crownèd, gazing on
The white face of that sister woe-begone
Who thro’ the lust of Christ’s own Vicar fell;
JOHN HUSS, still wrapt around with fires of Hell,
Clutching the Book he bore with piteous tears.

Silent they pass’d, the Martyrs and the Seers,                                     99
Known and unknown, the Heirs of love and praise;
And last, the Three, who with undaunted gaze                                     [l.iii]
Faced the great Ocean of Earth’s mystery,
Mighty and strong as when from sea to sea
They sail’d and sail’d; DE GAMA, following
COLUMBUS, who with sea-bird’s sleepless wing
Flew on from Deep to Deep; and, mightiest,
MAGELLAN, faring forward on his quest,
Putting the craven cowls of Rome to shame,
And lighting Earth and Heaven with his resplendent name!


Alterations in the 1901 edition of The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Buchanan:
Part X:
Page 93, l. iv: The Judge spake (while I dream’d who this might be):
Page 95, l. vii: Of Love and Joy, this man from out his Tomb
Page 99, l. iii: And last the Three who with undaunted gaze ]



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