Of the Book of Revelations | Sojourners

Of the Book of Revelations

This is the bed of pain
the hour of consternation.
From the beginning
the fastidious mind of man
is cruel and unforgiving
and the dark side of nature
like the dark side of the moon
keeps pace with the withering seasons.
Within the veil the Bull is slain in expiation
and then the bear and then its cub
and then the child whose mother too is driven
to the wilderness alone without an angel.
Begotten by slaughter the vanquished and the victors
are locked in dark embrace.
September's Christ lies bleeding on the precipice
and summer leaves the earth no greener
no wiser ...
we torture what we can not kill.
From the Second Seal
Red Horse Red Rider
the living give up the dead
the dead the living.
It is fire and blood
and the bread of life goes begging
--World without End.
Those who suffer most are rescued through the suffering
as the Lamb is marked for slaughter
We are His.
The Spirit lives proclaiming
and from the sacrificial blood
the death of one becomes the death of many.

James Lewisohn was serving a life sentence at the Maine State Prison in Thomaston when this poem appeared. His book of poems, A Morning Offering, was reviewed in the June 1980 Sojourners.

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