Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE LAST JUDGMENT, by JOHN CROWE RANSOM



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THE LAST JUDGMENT, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: To his angel company drowsing on their strings
Last Line: And showed her small round bosom kissed by the asp.
Subject(s): Angels; Gabriel; God


To his angel company drowsing on their strings,
"Go call my trumpeter!" said the King of Kings.

So Gabriel gat him up from the trumpeting station
And winged into court with testy deliberation.

"Let them wait. My trump and I who have waited are old;
Our wind is short; our joints are harsh and old."

But Jahveh's front was darkening like nightfall.
"Blow on thy trump, man! But what hast thou done therewithal?"

"'Tis boxed for keeping, Sire. So noble a pelf,
'Tis fast in lock, and reposeth high on the shelf."

"Recover thy trump, and sound through all the earth
An instant cease to the works of death and birth."

The ancient hasted to do his Lord's command,
On high his pinions creaking on either hand,

Unwrapped his trump, and beginning pale as the tomb,
By little he purpled his cheek on Crack-o'-Doom.

The frantical sinners heard it; and sinned right on.
They were not probationers now, they were damned and done.

They clutched at their gold, and merry whores, and gin,
And cursed this Day that sundered them from sweet sin.

But a widow woman laughed at the shapes of Doom,
Brandished at Heaven's host her crazy broom:

"Ye have tarried I think by the way. The war is done.
Your summons had been timelier seven years gone.

"My two sweet boys are naked dissolute bones,
As a million other murdered mother's sons.

"Search France and find them; I shall thank you well
When ye dispose us in official Hell."

But how they accuse the tedious courts of Heaven,
Those queens, ungrovelling at Omnipotence even.

With such a wrack their empires had been strewn,
They hadn't startled at Gabriel's quaint tune!

They shot precipitate like inverted rain
By routes converging to the Heavenly plain,

They quaked in the transit, full of their sin and pain,
But soon they were grounded firm on Heaven's plain.

Luisa unlocked her smile, the rose and flaxen
Who published a sleepy beauty that was Saxon;

For since she was chosen once of Bonaparte,
All other women's husbands pricked her heart.

But swarthy and blotched was simpering Jezebel,
So late with the worms, so soon to be bride of Hell.

Then Cleopatra enacted every wile
That had ensnared the antique world at Nile.

Her Eastern arts had never been withstood
Till Antony's last drop of Roman blood

Had leaped, and he had burst her coil asunder,
And clattered on the field with Roman thunder.

But she endured not for her honor's repute
To be of a single old lover destitute;

Nor did her mirror comfort her in rage,
Discovering the creeping cracks of age;

She got a little snake, too sweet to hiss,
And propped him up for his long voluptuous kiss.

His venom mixed with the woman's milk and honey,
No doctors then would hire for the kingdom's money.

He sucked her sweet breasts with all his little strength,
Till Egypt was quit of its curse at no great length.

But now in Heaven here harlotries were renewed,
For she loosed the cerements wherewith she was gewed.

Her side was buckled, but she undid the clasp
And showed her small round bosom kissed by the asp.





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