Verse > Anthologies > Edward Farr, comp. > Jacobean Poetry
Edward Farr, ed.  Select Poetry of the Reign of King James the First.  1847.
The Traitor Judas
VII. Giles Fletcher
THE GRACELESS Traitour round about did look
(He lookt not long, the devil quickly met him)
To finde a halter, which he found, and took,
Onely a gibbet now he needs must get him;
So on a wither’d tree he fairly set him,        5
  And helpt him fit the rope, and in his thought
  A thousand furies, with their whips, he brought;
So there he stands, readie to hell to make his vault.
For him a waking bloudhound, yelling loud,
That in his bosome long had sleeping laid;        10
A guiltie conscience, barking after bloud,
Pursued eagerly, ne ever staid,
Till the betrayer’s self it had betray’d.
  Oft chang’d he place, in hope away to winde,
  But change of place could never change his minde:        15
Himself he flies to lose, and follows for to finde.
There is but two wayes for this soul to have,
When parting from the body, forth it purges;
To flie to heav’n, or fall into the grave,
Where whips of scorpions, with the stinging scourges,        20
Feed on the howling ghosts, and fierie surges
  Of brimstone rowl about the cave of night,
  Where flames do burn, and yet no spark of light;
And fire both fries and freezes the blaspheming spright.
There lies the captive soul, aye-sighing sore,        25
Reck’ning a thousand yeares since her first bands;
Yet stayes not there, but addes a thousand more,
And at another thousand never stands,
But tells to them the starres and heaps the sands:
  And now the starres are told, and sands are runne,        30
  And all those thousand thousand myriads done,
And yet, but now, alas! but now all is begunne.
With that a flaming brand a furie catch’d,
And shook, and tost it round in his wilde thought,
So from his heart all joy, all comfort snatcht,        35
With ev’ry starre of hope; and as he sought
(With present fear and future grief distraught)
  To flie from his own heart, and aid implore
  Of him, the more he gives, that hath the more,
Whose storehouse is the heav’ns, too little for his store:        40
“Stay, wretch, on earth” (cried Satan)—“restlesse rest;
Know’st thou not Justice lives in heav’n; or can
The worst of creatures live among the best—
Among the blessed angels cursed man?
Will Judas now become a Christian?        45
  Whither will hope’s long wings transport thy minde?
  Or canst thou not thyself a sinner finde?
Or, cruell to thyself, wouldst thou have mercie kinde?
“He gave thee life; why shouldst thou seek to slay him?
He lent thee wealth to feed thy avarice:        50
He call’d thee friend—what, that thou shouldst betray him?
He kist thee, though he knew his life the price:
He washt thy feet—shouldst thou his sacrifice?
  He gave thee bread, and wine, his bodie, bloud,
  And at thy heart to enter in he stood;        55
But then I entred in, and all my snakie brood.”
As when wilde Pentheus, grown mad with fear,
Whole troups of hellish hags about him spies,
Two bloody sunnes stalking the duskie sphear,
And twofold Thebes runs rowling in his eyes;        60
Or through the scene staring Orestes flies,
  With eyes flung back upon his mother’s ghost,
  That, with infernall serpents all embost,
And torches quencht in blood, doth her stern sonne accost;
Such horrid gorgons, and misformed forms        65
Of damned fiends, flew dancing in his heart,
That, now unable to endure their storms,
“Flie, flie!” he cries, “thyself whatere thou art,
Hell, hell, alreadie burns in ev’ry part.”
  So down into his torturers’ arms he fell,        70
  That readie stood his funeralls to yell,
And in a cloud of night to waft him quick to hell.
Yet oft he snatcht, and started as he hung:
So when the senses half enslumbered lie,
The headlong bodie, readie to be flung        75
By the deluding phansie from some high
And craggie rock, recovers greedily,
  And clasps the yeelding pillow, half asleep,
  And, as from heav’n it tombled to the deep,
Feels a cold sweat through ev’ry trembling member creep:        80
There let him hang embowelled in bloud,
Where never any gentle shepheard feed
His blessed flocks, nor ever heav’nly floud
Fall on the cursed ground, nor wholesome seed,
That may the least delight or pleasure breed;        85
  Let never Spring visit his habitation,
  But nettles, kix, and all the weedy nation,
With emptie elders grow—sad signes of desolation!
There let the dragon keep his habitance,
And stinking carcasses be thrown avaunt,        90
Fauns, sylvans, and deformed satyrs dance,
Wild cats, wolves, toads, and screech-owls direly chaunt;
There ever let some restlesse spirit haunt,
  With hollow sound, and clashing chains, to scare
  The passenger, and eyes like to the starre        95
That sparkles in the crest of angrie Mars afarre.

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