Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE JUDGES, by HERBERT KAUFMAN



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THE JUDGES, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Who are you that dare to judge?
Last Line: What atonement she shall pay?
Subject(s): Critics & Criticism; Judgments


WHO are you that dare to judge?
Are your own souls without smudge?
Are your lives so clean of sin
That your neighbor may look in?
Have you walked the narrow way
Where the ghosts of sorrow play?
Do you know the grief that sears
And the blindingness of tears?
Answer Him who sees the lie
Lurking in your smirking eye.

Was it you, my neighbor Smug?
Why, you money maddened thug,
They are waiting down in hell
Eagerly for you. They know full well
How you've housed the spawn of vice
Pitiful and loathsome lice,
Leasing them your barracks foul
For a use that made God scowl.

Was it you, my neighbor Sleek?
Peter has you listed "sneak."
Do you ever lie in bed
Thinking of the poor you've bled—
Of the widow's daughter's soul,
Spent to meet your mortgage toll—
Of men's honor all-agone
That you snared and kept in pawn?

Was it you, my neighbor Stout?
Why, you animal, you lout,
From your birth so low you've been
That you could n't stoop to sin.
All you do is drink and feed
Like swine and swine-like breed.
If your soul should ever wake
You would swear you had an ache.

Was it you, my neighbor Fair?
I'm surprised to see you there,
With the orange blossom scent
Still among your tresses blent.
Once she was as sure as you
That her love was staunch and true.
God knows what wild passion's play
Might make you throw all away.

Who are you that you shall say
What atonement she shall pay?





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