Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE SCAPEGOAT, by HARRY HIBBARD KEMP



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THE SCAPEGOAT, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: They bore me away from the happy flock
Last Line: God only knows, not I!
Subject(s): Crucifixion; Goats; Guilt; Jesus Christ; Religion; Jesus Christ - Crucifixion; Theology


THEY bore me away from the happy flock
And away from the hill slopes green,
Away from the midday shade of trees
And waters cool and clean.

And here, where the Mounts of Moab close
The East with a purple rim
And the sky is a bowl of spilling fire,
Mine eyes in death wax dim.

They led me forth with austere joy
And the psalter's solemn sound,
And about my newly-budded horns
A scarlet fillet wound;

And they say that I pay for a People's sins,
Who burn with thirst and die—
But whether the tale be true or no,
God only knows, not I.

But, however it be, I wonder why
They led me forth, accurst,
Who, of all the hillside-clamb'ring flock,
Was neither best nor worst;

And was it really the Will of God
That brought me here to die
Where the Salt Sea stinks, and the salt marsh reeks,
And the dead reeds rustle dry?

Yes, why should they lead me, me, of all,
To the desert sick with drought? ...
I have dreamed, three nights, 'neath fiery stars,
That green grass filled my mouth,—

Where the Salt Sea stinks, and the salt marsh reeks,
And the dead reeds rustle dry,
I have dreamed, three nights, of a stream that sweeps
In a sheet of silver by. ...

O, I wonder if it be true or no
That the good Lord did decree
That the sins of a People could be cleansed
By the death of one like me! ...

For why should I, who have done no wrong,
For the sins of others die
With a scarlet fillet about my horns?—
God only knows, not I!





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