Edgar Lee Masters
Ballad Of The Traitor’s Soul - Poem by Edgar Lee Masters
'Twas the shrunken soul of the traitor
That whined in a coign of the dark;
And the fiends were aroused from slumber,
When Cerberus began to bark.
'Methought that I spoke' said Julian,
Who betrayed God's own demesne;
'And I,' said the ghost of Caesar,
'Heard the dying groans of the slain.'
'Twas the voice,' said the high priest Caiaphas,
'That uttered those words of awe,
'Ye have given a tithe of anise,
And broken the weightier law.'
Then cried out Judas Iscariot,
Who fled on the wings of the wind;
'Some one is counting the silver,
And wailing because I sinned.'
But spake up the seven devils,
That vexed Mary Magdalene;
'The days of our bondage are over,
We are no longer unclean.'
'Moreover the voice that called us,
Said 'Enter the souls of men,
For Belial rules this cycle,
And Mammon has triumphed again.''
Then the horrent jowls of Moloch,
Wrinkled into a grin,
And he growled 'tis the soul of the traitor,
Open and let him in.'
'Twas the shrunken soul of the traitor,
Like a mouse at the furnace door,
That stood in the haze of hades,
And trembled within its roar.
Then uprose the form of Satan,
And taking a crucible saith:
'The shrunken soul of the traitor
Shall suffer the second death.'
'Come anarchs of ancient cities,
And captains of torch and sword;
For hell hath never received one,
By God and fiends so abhorred.'
Then the shrunken soul of the traitor,
Pleaded that he might live:
'Ye have borne with Phillip and Herod,
And my sin ye ought to forgive.'
But Phillip came forward and mocked him:--
'The laws of God may atone
The crime of destroying a country,
Unless he destroys his own.'
So the horrent jowls of Moloch
Wrinkled into a grin,
And the crucible being ready,
They threw the renegade in;
And fed the fire underneath it,
Until in the crucible lay
A drop of green, bitter water
That smelled of death and decay.
Then Satan siezed hold of the crucible,
And drained the drop on the fire,
And a flame leaped up to the heavens,
And instantly did expire.
And there in the darkness that followed
The arch fiends with broken breath,
Fled far from the place of horror,
And the sight of the second death.
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