Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
Judas Iscariot
By Robert Buchanan (1841–1901)
’TWAS the soul of Judas Iscariot,
  Strange, and sad, and tall,
Stood all alone at dead of night
  Before a lighted hall.
And the wold was white with snow,        5
  And his foot-marks black and damp,
And the ghost of the silvern Moon arose,
  Holding her yellow lamp.
And the icicles were on the eaves,
  And the walls were deep with white,        10
And the shadows of the guests within
  Pass’d on the window light.
The shadows of the wedding guests
  Did strangely come and go,
And the body of Judas Iscariot        15
  Lay stretch’d along the snow.
The body of Judas Iscariot
  Lay stretched along the snow;
’Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
  Ran swiftly to and fro.        20
To and fro, and up and down,
  He ran so swiftly there,
As round and round the frozen Pole
  Glideth the lean white bear.
… ’Twas the Bridegroom sat at the table-head,        25
  And the lights burnt bright and clear—
‘Oh, who is that,’ the Bridegroom said,
  ‘Whose weary feet I hear?’
’Twas one looked from the lighted hall,
  And answer’d soft and slow,        30
‘It is a wolf runs up and down
  With a black track in the snow.’
The Bridegroom in his robe of white
  Sat at the table-head—
‘Oh, who is that who moans without?’        35
  The blessèd Bridegroom said.
’Twas one look’d from the lighted hall,
  And answer’d fierce and low,
‘’Tis the soul of Judas Iscariot
  Gliding to and fro.’        40
’Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
  Did hush itself and stand,
And saw the Bridegroom at the door
  With a light in his hand.
The Bridegroom stood in the open door,        45
  And he was clad in white,
And far within the Lord’s Supper
  Was spread so broad and bright.
The Bridegroom shaded his eyes and look’d,
  And his face was bright to see—        50
‘What dost thou here at the Lord’s Supper
  With thy body’s sins?’ said he.
’Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot
  Stood black, and sad, and bare—
‘I have wander’d many nights and days;        55
  There is no light elsewhere.’
’Twas the wedding guests cried out within,
  And their eyes were fierce and bright—
‘Scourge the soul of Judas Iscariot
  Away into the night!’        60
The Bridegroom stood in the open door,
  And he waved hands still and slow,
And the third time that he waved his hands
  The air was thick with snow.
And of every flake of falling snow,        65
  Before it touch’d the ground,
There came a dove, and a thousand doves
  Made sweet sound.
’Twas the body of Judas Iscariot
  Floated away full fleet,        70
And the wings of the doves that bare it off
  Were like its winding-sheet.
’Twas the Bridegroom stood at the open door,
  And beckon’d, smiling sweet;
’Twas the soul of Judas Iscariot        75
  Stole in, and fell at his feet.
‘The Holy Supper is spread within,
  And the many candles shine,
And I have waited long for thee
  Before I pour’d the wine!’        80
The supper wine is pour’d at last,
  The lights burn bright and fair,
Iscariot washes the Bridegroom’s feet,
  And dries them with his hair.

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