new zealand electronic poetry centre


Robin Hyde

The Conquerors And Other Poems


"Lazarus, come forth." But oh, with dumb hearts riven
They watched the grave-stone stir, the holy door,
And that dead boy, whose youth was all forgiven,
Come back to touch their flesh, to sin once more.
How could they bear, more than a little season,
He should be husband, brother, to any woman?
Who still remembered him kind beyond reason,
With the strange, bright smile inhuman?

Leave Thou our dead youth quiet in its place.
See, we have drawn the shroud about the face,
Ended our weeping. Now not any more
These dangerous hands shall beat on Beauty’s door.
It is meet the young and perilous should die.
What, would you have us children, heroes again,
Because of a great curved banner sweeping by,
A spent song hurled in the teeth of the wind and rain?
Or, in a world of dusk and dews, half wild
Because a white-faced slattern is with child
And in the bland arena of our law
Crouches alone, to meet the bestial claw?
Heal Thou the maimed, the lepers, who are gone
So easily in the throng. But leave alone
Our own dead youth, that which we secretly slew,
And walked in safety . . . for there was none that knew . . .
Already the grass is ragged over the grave . . .
Ah, merciless Christ — it is he Thou comest to save.


Last updated 11 September, 2003