Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, REPRISALS, by WILLIAM ROSE BENET



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REPRISALS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Our words were spoken, and our hate found tongue
Last Line: But with the hissing of a thousand snakes!
Subject(s): Anger; Animals; Hate; Malice; Mankind; Poisons & Poisoning; Snakes; Human Race; Serpents; Vipers


Our words were spoken, and our hate found tongue;
But, through the great bright flame of Anger, broke
Livid and serpentine
Flickerings of malice. Like to snakes they stung.
Where righteous wrath had burned us pure, we spoke
Instead the little things—small things and mean.

Oh, strike out from the shoulder, or forget!
That is the man's way; but this blackening bile,—
That rots the heart of right
Though right be thine,—keeps wounds forever wet
And festering, with distilments mixed by guile,
Till a man's soul turns reptile in its spite.

Frankly affront offense, or grant "Forgiven!"
God, for how many an issue we implore
Just lightnings! Then it breaks—
The culminating storm-cloud—shaming Heaven,
Not with the lion's bold and forthright roar,
But with the hissing of a thousand snakes!





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