Sunday, October 11, 2009

Poem of the Week: "Saint Judas," by James Wright

I didn't pick this Poem of the Week for any particular reason other than the fact that I just really, really like it. I love it. It holds one of my favorite literary passages of all time in the last three lines. Plus, it's a sonnet - my favorite (although admittedly cliched) poetic form. It's a beautiful little poem about guilt and redemption, and James Wright presents Judas's story with so little fuss that it feels like a minor miracle. I hope you like this poem even half as much as I do.

Saint Judas, by James Wright

When I went out to kill myself, I caught
A pack of hoodlums beating up a man.
Running to spare his suffering, I forgot
My name, my number, how my day began,
How soldiers milled around the garden stone
And sang amusing songs; how all that day
Their javelins measured crowds; how I alone
Bargained the proper coins, and slipped away.

Banished from heaven, I found this victim beaten,
Stripped, kneed, and left to cry. Dropping my rope
Aside, I ran, ignored the uniforms:
Then I remembered bread my flesh had eaten,
The kiss that ate my flesh. Flayed without hope,
I held the man for nothing in my arms.

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