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Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Prose Works. 1892.

IV. Pieces in Early Youth

12. Blood-Money

  • “Guilty of the body and the blood of Christ.”
  • I.
  • OF olden time, when it came to pass
  • That the beautiful god, Jesus, should finish his work on earth,
  • Then went Judas, and sold the divine youth,
  • And took pay for his body.
  • Curs’d was the deed, even before the sweat of the clutching hand grew dry;
  • And darkness frown’d upon the seller of the like of God,
  • Where, as though earth lifted her breast to throw him from her, and heaven refused him,
  • He hung in the air, self-slaughter’d.
  • The cycles, with their long shadows, have stalk’d silently forward,
  • Since those ancient days—many a pouch enwrapping meanwhile
  • Its fee, like that paid for the son of Mary.
  • And still goes one, saying,
  • “What will ye give me, and I will deliver this man unto you?”
  • And they make the covenant, and pay the pieces of silver.
  • II.
  • Look forth, deliverer,
  • Look forth, first-born of the dead,
  • Over the tree-tops of Paradise;
  • See thyself in yet-continued bonds,
  • Toilsome and poor, thou bear’st man’s form again,
  • Thou art reviled, scourged, put into prison,
  • Hunted from the arrogant equality of the rest;
  • With staves and swords throng the willing servants of authority,
  • Again they surround thee, mad with devilish spite;
  • Toward thee stretch the hands of a multitude, like vultures’ talons,
  • The meanest spit in thy face, they smite thee with their palms;
  • Bruised, bloody, and pinion’d is thy body,
  • More sorrowful than death is thy soul.
  • Witness of anguish, brother of slaves,
  • Not with thy price closed the price of thine image:
  • And still Iscariot plies his trade.
  • April, 1843.