Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE INNOCENTS, by ELINOR WYLIE



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THE INNOCENTS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: When the cock in the dish
Last Line: "to quiet his crying."
Alternate Author Name(s): Benet, William Rose, Mrs.
Subject(s): Herod The Great (73-4 B.c.); Jesus Christ - Childhood & Youth


When the cock in the dish
Crew "Christus natus est!"
I saddled a wish
And rode from the west.

The ditches were piled
With young children dying:
I saw Herod's child
In a gold cradle lying.

At high white noon
In a tower turned south;
A silver spoon
Was in the child's mouth.

It was bright as a candle
And heavy as lead:
Carved on the handle
Was John Baptist's head.

I climbed like a cat;
I stole the metal;
I hammered it flat
To a silver petal.

I curled the leaf
To a silver bell
To echo the grief
Of Israel.

The dead were dumb
But it spoke for them:
By night I was come
To Bethlehem.

Mary's mantle
Covered the Christ:
With myrrh and santal
His hair was spiced.

I kissed the ground
Where the gold was tossed:
The bell made a sound
Like a young child lost.

"This bell is a bird
Or a shaken bud;
It speaks a word
The color of blood.

"This bell is a cup
Or a thorny cap . . ."
The Christ sat up
In Mary's lap.

"O take this bell
And stifle its breath,
For Israel
Is tired of death.

"When Herod's boy
Lies broken and dying,
Give him this toy
To quiet his crying."





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