Herman Melville

(1 August 1819 – 28 September 1891 / New York City, New York)

The Martyr - Poem by Herman Melville

(Indicative of the Passion of the People
on the 15th Day of April, 1865)
* * *

Good Friday was the day
Of the prodigy and crime,
When they killed him in his pity,
When they killed him in his prime
Of clemency and calm-
When with yearning he was filled
To redeem the evil-willed,
And, though conqueror, be kind;
But they killed him in his kindness,
In their madness and their blindness,
And they killed him from behind.

There is sobbing of the strong,
And a pall upon the land;
But the People in their weeping
Bare the iron hand;
Beware the People weeping
When they bare the iron hand.

He lieth in his blood-
The father in his face;
They have killed him, the Forgiver-
The Avenger takes his place,
The Avenger wisely stern,
Who in righteousness shall do
What the heavens call him to,
And the parricides remand;
For they killed him in his kindness,
In their madness and their blindness,
And his blood is on their hand.

There is sobbing of the strong,
And a pall upon the land;
But the People in their weeping
Bare the iron hand;
Beware the People weeping
When they bare the iron hand.


Comments about The Martyr by Herman Melville

  • (2/13/2018 11:13:00 AM)


    Poetry that tells a very dark story.
    Superb.
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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 19, 2010



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