Nonfiction > Walt Whitman > Prose Works > IV. Pieces in Early Youth > 12. Blood-Money
Walt Whitman (1819–1892).  Prose Works. 1892.
IV. Pieces in Early Youth
12. Blood-Money
“Guilty of the body and the blood of Christ.”
OF olden time, when it came to pass
That the beautiful god, Jesus, should finish his work on earth,
Then went Judas, and sold the divine youth,
And took pay for his body.
Curs’d was the deed, even before the sweat of the clutching hand grew dry;
And darkness frown’d upon the seller of the like of God,
Where, as though earth lifted her breast to throw him from her, and heaven refused him,
He hung in the air, self-slaughter’d.
The cycles, with their long shadows, have stalk’d silently forward,
Since those ancient days—many a pouch enwrapping meanwhile
Its fee, like that paid for the son of Mary.
And still goes one, saying,
“What will ye give me, and I will deliver this man unto you?”
And they make the covenant, and pay the pieces of silver.
Look forth, deliverer,
Look forth, first-born of the dead,
Over the tree-tops of Paradise;
See thyself in yet-continued bonds,
Toilsome and poor, thou bear’st man’s form again,
Thou art reviled, scourged, put into prison,
Hunted from the arrogant equality of the rest;
With staves and swords throng the willing servants of authority,
Again they surround thee, mad with devilish spite;
Toward thee stretch the hands of a multitude, like vultures’ talons,
The meanest spit in thy face, they smite thee with their palms;
Bruised, bloody, and pinion’d is thy body,
More sorrowful than death is thy soul.
Witness of anguish, brother of slaves,
Not with thy price closed the price of thine image:
And still Iscariot plies his trade.
April, 1843.



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