Kenneth Slessor

(27 March 1901 – 30 June 1971 / Orange, New South Wales)

Vesper-Song Of The Reverend Samuel Marsden - Poem by Kenneth Slessor

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MY cure of souls, my cage of brutes,
Go lick and learn at these my boots!
When tainted highways tear a hole,
I bid my cobbler welt the sole.
O, ye that wear the boots of Hell,
Shall I not welt a soul as well?
O, souls that leak with holes of sin,
Shall I not let God's leather in,
Or hit with sacramental knout
Your twice-convicted vileness out?
Lord, I have sung with ceaseless lips
A tinker's litany of whips,
Have graved another Testament
On backs bowed down and bodies bent.
My stripes of jewelled blood repeat
A scarlet Grace for holy meat.
Not mine, the Hand that writes the weal
On this, my vellum of puffed veal,
Not mine, the glory that endures,
But Yours, dear God, entirely Yours.
Are there not Saints in holier skies
Who have been scourged to Paradise?
O, Lord, when I have come to that,
Grant there may be a Heavenly Cat
With twice as many tails as here—
And make me, God, Your Overseer.
But if the veins of Saints be dead,
Grant me a whip in Hell instead,
Where blood is not so hard to fetch.
But I, Lord, am Your humble wretch.


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, April 1, 2010

Poem Edited: Friday, November 18, 2011


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