Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, FOR ST. BARTHOLOMEW'S EVE, by MALCOLM COWLEY



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FOR ST. BARTHOLOMEW'S EVE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Then die! / outside the prison gawk
Last Line: Like ashes in the winds of god.
Subject(s): Bartholomew, Saint (1st Century); Saints


Then die!
Outside the prison gawk
the crowds that you will see no more.
A door slams shut behind you. Walk
with turnkeys down a corridor
smelling of lysol, through the gates
to where a drunken sheriff waits.

St. Nicholas who blessed your birth,
whose hands are rich with gifts, will bear
no further gifts to you on earth,
Sacco, whose heart abounds in prayer
neither to Pilate nor a saint
whose earthly sons die innocent.

And you that would not bow your knee
to God, swarthy Bartholomew,
no God will grant you liberty,
nor Virgin intercede for you,
nor bones of yours make sweet the plot
where governors and judges rot.

A doctor sneezes. A chaplain maps
the routes to heaven. You mount the chair.
A jailor buckles tight the straps
like those which aviators wear.
The surgeon makes a signal.
Die!
lost symbols of our liberty.

Beyond the chair, beyond the bars
of day and night, your path lies free;
yours in an avenue of stars:
march on, O dago Christs, while we
march on to spread your name abroad
like ashes in the winds of God.




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