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Robert Graves (1895–1985). Fairies and Fusiliers. 1918.

43. In the Wilderness

CHRIST of His gentleness

Thirsting and hungering,

Walked in the wilderness;

Soft words of grace He spoke

Unto lost desert-folk

That listened wondering.

He heard the bitterns call

From ruined palace-wall,

Answered them brotherly.

He held communion

With the she-pelican

Of lonely piety.

Basilisk, cockatrice,

Flocked to his homilies,

With mail of dread device,

With monstrous barbéd slings,

With eager dragon-eyes;

Great rats on leather wings

And poor blind broken things,

Foul in their miseries.

And ever with Him went,

Of all His wanderings

Comrade, with ragged coat,

Gaunt ribs—poor innocent—

Bleeding foot, burning throat,

The guileless old scapegoat;

For forty nights and days

Followed in Jesus’ ways,

Sure guard behind Him kept,

Tears like a lover wept.