Mentana: Second Anniversary

A poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne

Est-ce qu'il n'est pas temps que la foudre se prouve,
Cieux profonds, en broyant ce chien, fils de la louve?
La Légende des Siècles: - Ratbert.

1


By the dead body of Hope, the spotless lamb
Thou threwest into the high priest's slaughtering-room,
And by the child Despair born red therefrom
As, thank the secret sire picked out to cram
With spurious spawn thy misconceiving dam,
Thou, like a worm from a town's common tomb,
Didst creep from forth the kennel of her womb,
Born to break down with catapult and ram
Man's builded towers of promise, and with breath
And tongue to track and hunt his hopes to death:
O, by that sweet dead body abused and slain,
And by that child mismothered,--dog, by all
Thy curses thou hast cursed mankind withal,
With what curse shall man curse thee back again?


2

By the brute soul that made man's soul its food;
By time grown poisonous with it; by the hate
And horror of all souls not miscreate;
By the hour of power that evil hath on good;
And by the incognizable fatherhood
Which made a whorish womb the shameful gate
That opening let out loose to fawn on fate
A hound half-blooded ravening for man's blood;
(What prayer but this for thee should any say,
Thou dog of hell, but this that Shakespeare said?)
By night deflowered and desecrated day,
That fall as one curse on one cursed head,
"Cancel his bond of life, dear God, I pray,
That I may live to say, The dog is dead!"

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