March 4, 2011

The Martyr

Not much work on the layout this week as I have been working on some other projects. I did make another pine tree and it might take the place of the white oak at Falmouth.

I was listening to Prof Blight's lectures on the Civil War and he quoted this poem. It is Herman Melville's reaction to the assassination of Lincoln. The emotion and power of this poem is palpable. I thought I'd share it.


The Martyr
by Herman Melville 

Good Friday was the day
Of the prodigy and crime,
When they killed him in his pity,
When they killed him in his prime
Of clemency and calm--
When with yearning he was filled
To redeem the evil-willed,
And, though conqueror, be kind;
But they killed him in his kindness,
In their madness and their blindness,
And they killed him from behind.


There is sobbing of the strong,
And a pall upon the land;
But the People in their weeping
Bare the iron hand;
Beware the People weeping
When they bare the iron hand.


He lieth in his blood--
The father in his face;
They have killed him, the Forgiver--
The Avenger takes his place,
The Avenger wisely stern,
Who in righteousness shall do
What the heavens call him to,
And the parricides remand;
For they killed him in his kindness,
In their madness and their blindness,
And his blood is on their hand.


There is sobbing of the strong,
And a pall upon the land;
But the People in their weeping
Bare the iron hand:
Beware the People weeping
When they bare the iron hand.

2 comments:

  1. I find it palpable and prophetic. Then and now, with our more current events.

    Thanks for sharing

    Bob Harris

    ReplyDelete
  2. Powerful. Sadly, little seems to change; except we miss Melville's poetic eloquence.

    ReplyDelete