A Choice

A poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne

Faith is the spirit that makes man's body and blood
Sacred, to crown when life and death have ceased
His heavenward head for high fame's holy feast;
But as one swordstroke swift as wizard's rod
Made Caesar carrion and made Brutus God,
Faith false or true, born patriot or born priest,
Smites into semblance or of man or beast
The soul that feeds on clean or unclean food.
Lo here the faith that lives on its own light,
Visible music; and lo there, the foul
Shape without shape, the harpy throat and howl.
Sword of the spirit of man! arise and smite,
And sheer through throat and claw and maw and tongue
Kill the beast faith that lives on its own dung.

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