The Augurs

A poem by Algernon Charles Swinburne

Lay the corpse out on the altar; bid the elect
Slaves clear the ways of service spiritual,
Sweep clean the stalled soul's serviceable stall,
Ere the chief priest's dismantling hands detect
The ulcerous flesh of faith all scaled and specked
Beneath the bandages that hid it all,
And with sharp edgetools oecumenical
The leprous carcases of creeds dissect.
As on the night ere Brutus grew divine
The sick-souled augurs found their ox or swine
Heartless; so now too by their after art
In the same Rome, at an uncleaner shrine,
Limb from rank limb, and putrid part from part,
They carve the corpse--a beast without a heart.

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