Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, FLAGELLANTS, by RACHEL ANNAND TAYLOR

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

FLAGELLANTS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The soul is bleeding in thy sight
Last Line: O love supreme, o love supreme!)
Subject(s): Beauty; Death; Hearts; Love; Passion; Dead, The


THE Soul is bleeding in Thy sight,
O Jesu; and the Body must.
Shall the slave dance in red and white,
The Queen lie naked in the dust?
We sought Thee West and East; we ran
To painted palaces. Oh! Vain!
Thou callest, sad sweet Castellan,
Up to thy dim-gold keep of pain.
(Lift up the gates, the flaming gates,
With martyrdoms and flickering fates
Wrought over. Shall we dare to flee
The Fortress where Thou lov'st to be?)


Our lips are scarlet, subtly kist
Of Pagan love; our fingers fine
All arts and spells and tortures wist:
They drove the dagger, drugged the wine.
Our feet have trod the Venus-hill,
Our brows upon her breast have lain.
Oh! Plague our fair soiled bodies, till
Their sins are all outburned by pain.
(Death of the Body we adore,—
A lady loved as none before!
Oh! Sweet and bitter as great seas,
She cleanses our mortalities!)


The Scourge that once Thy beauty bare
Shall cling and cleave where interwound
Love's darling arms: our curled soft hair
With all the Passion-thorns be crowned.
An evil madrigal, our sin
Still vexed Thee. Hark the new refrain
Of falling tears, for we begin
To ransom peace with pain, with pain.
(While beautiful boy-seraphs sing,
Their fingers on the muted string,
With dream-pale faces, listening eyes,
Beneath the trees of Paradise.)


Ah! How we seek and cannot find!
Only a colour,—broken light—
A scent of sorrow down the wind,
A wilding savour through the night!
Nay! Not amid the roses, Christ,
That wound and stain, that haunt and stain!
The Soul must keep her bridal tryst
Mid the great lilies charmed from pain.
(Then in that awful Place and pure,
The kindling of the Night Obscure,—
When like strange tears will be this Past
That Thou shalt kiss away at last!)


Lead, crimson gonfaloni. Thus
We faint and perish, yet aspire.
Burn, pointed tapers, lighting us
Unto the Darkness we desire.
O Passion of the Pardon! Sigh
By sigh, the Soul is breaking free.
Like rent red raiment casting by
The body, she escapes to Thee.
(As a great sword the sheath forsakes,
As flame from lighted incense wakes,
The Sleeper sloughs her wasting dream.—
O Love Supreme, O Love Supreme!)

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