new zealand electronic poetry centre


Robin Hyde

Persephone in Winter

Old Judas, with your head for petty cash,
Your trick of justifying each offence
Because I was a boy — and ah, how rash! —
Because you half believed it all pretence,
That guilelessness, that queer white innocence;
(Anyhow, if ’twere true, a pearl-splashed King
Would pour down Storm Troops for my rescuing,
And you, who’d wandered in a kind of daze
Through mean, benighted hovels, would watch the blaze
Of angry angels, wing on lashing wing;
You wouldn’t mind a bit
Dying an outcast, if that came of it;)
Won’t you forgive yourself? Two thousand years
Seems a long time for eyes too strained for tears
And hunted . . . hunted . . . hunted . . . why, you knew
Just in that white-lit second, all was true.
The fool, (yes, even in that hour you’d scoff,)
Wouldn’t go begging God to let him off;
He’d have his own ways, just keep on, alone,
To some accursed thief-cross dubbed his Throne.
You watched the jackals, saw the sleek lips smack —
Silver — you’d given yourself to buy me back.
You were my soldier. Dying like that, you live.
And still you won’t forgive.
You know, dear, I choose twelve; and somehow Heaven
Can’t keep a comrade table with eleven.


Last updated 21 September, 2003