Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, JUDITH, by ADAH ISAACS MENKEN



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JUDITH, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Ashkelon is not cut off with the remnant of a valley
Last Line: And I know where sleeps holofernes.
Alternate Author Name(s): Theodore, Philomene Croi; Mccord, Ada
Subject(s): Judith (Bible); Philistines; Women In The Bible


"Repent, or I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight
thee with the
sword of my mouth. " -- Revelation ii. 16.

I.

Ashkelon is not cut off with the remnant of a valley.
Baldness dwells not upon Gaza.
The field of the valley is mine, and it is clothed in verdure.
The steepness of Baal-perazim is mine;
And the Philistines spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim.
They shall yet be delivered into my hands.
For the God of Battles has gone before me!
The sword of the mouth shall smite them to dust.
I have slept in the darkness, --
But the seventh angel woke me, and giving me a sword of
flame, points
to the blood-ribbed cloud, that lifts his reeking head
above the mountain.
Thus am I the prophet.
I see the dawn that heralds to my waiting soul the advent of power.
Power that will unseal the thunders!
Power that will give voice to graves!
Graves of the living;
Graves of the dying;
Graves of the sinning;
Graves of the loving;
Graves of the despairing;
And oh! graves of the deserted!
These shall speak, each as their voices shall be loosed.
And the day is dawning.


II.

Stand back, ye Philistines!
Practice what ye preach to me;
I heed ye not, for I know ye all.
Ye are living burning lies, and profanation to the
garments which with
stately steps ye sweep your marble palaces.
Your palaces of Sin, around which the damning evidence
of guilt hangs
like a reeking vapor.
Stand back!
I would pass up the golden road of the world.
A place in the ranks awaits me.
I know that ye are hedged on the borders of my path.
Lie and tremble, for ye well know that I hold with iron
grasp the battle axe.
Creep back to your dark tents in the valley.
Slouch back to your haunts of crime.
Ye do not know me, neither do ye see me.
But the sword of the mouth is unsealed, and ye coil yourselves
in slime and bitterness at my feet.
I mix your jeweled heads, and your gleaming eyes,
and your hissing tongues with the dust.
My garments shall bear no mark of ye.
When I shall return this sword to the angel, your foul
blood will not stain its edge.
It will glimmer with the light of truth, and the strong
arm shall rest.


III.

Stand back!
I am no Magdalene waiting to kiss the hem of your garment.
It is mid-day.
See ye not what is written on my forehead?
I am Judith!
I wait for the head of my Holofernes!
Ere the last tremble of the conscious death-agony shall
have shuddered,
I will show it to ye with the long black hair clinging to
the glazed eyes, and
the great mouth opened in search of voice, and the strong
throat all hot
and reeking with blood, that will thrill me with wild
unspeakable joy as it
courses down my bare body and dabbles my cold feet!
My sensuous soul will quake with the burden of so much bliss.
Oh, what wild passionate kisses will I draw up from that
bleeding mouth!
I will strangle this pallid throat of mine on the sweet blood!
I will revel in my passion.
At midnight I will feast on it in the darkness.
For it was that which thrilled its crimson tides of reckless passion
through the blue veins of my life, and made them leap up in the wild
sweetness of Love and agony of Revenge!
I am starving for this feast.
Oh forget not that I am Judith!
And I know where sleeps Holofernes.






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