William Bell Scott

(1811-1890 / Scotland)

The Auto Da Fe - Poem by William Bell Scott


Saint Dominic had a vision: Mary mild
Stood by him shining in her robes of light,
And warned him fire and sword, the law of might,
Should spread the faith and worship of her child.
Time passed, and holy Church the faggots piled.
In Italy, in fair Provence, in Spain,
Prayer was torn up with groans, blood fell like rain,
Pity and brotherhood thenceforth exiled.

And I too had a vision of the night:
Appalled by shrieks I rose awake! red light
Burst from a pit of fire, and far down there,
While those still rang like a dom-church bell,
I saw a carcase in the quivering lair:
Dominic it was in Dante's fieriest cell.

I rose in bed, repeated like a child
The dear Lord's prayer; a candle lit, and read
The Sermon on the Mount, until my head
Sank on the pillow; then too soon beguiled
By the same fever-sleep, again the wild
Horror of death-by-fire, eternally
Prolonged, possessed my senses, and the cry
Rang up, the shrieks returned; around me coiled
That vision of the pit, the pit of doom,
Where two still living corpses now consume,
Struggling together with their talons thrust
Into each others eye-holes filled with dust.
'Twas Torquemada in the maddening gloom,
And Dominic, struggling in their murderous lust.

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010

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