Monday, September 11, 2006


By D.L. Sayers

FROM the grave-bed and the winding sheet
Is a long way for dead feet,
A dark road for dead eyes,
That leads to the gates of Paradise.

When Judas' soul went through the night,
To knock on Hades gate,
His way was over the whin-pricked moor,
And the noise of the wind was great.

He had no lantern to his feet,
Nor candle in his hand,
Such as God gives to every man
That dies at the time planned.

The angels sit in highest Heaven
And trim the lamps of God,
And all day long make lights for those
That travel death's dim road.

And when the cross is on thy breast,
The chrism on thine eyes,
Thy angel will bear down thy light
Out of the starry skies

And thou therewith shalt walk by night
Safely to Paradise.
But whoso doth so deadly sin
To cast his life away,
Finding his lamp not lit betimes
Walks through the midnight grey.

For a long night and half a day
Did Judas walk alone
Through the utter dark, for in that place
Is neither sun nor moon.

For a long night and half a day
Did Judas vainly seek
To reach the gates of Paradise,
The salt tears on his cheek.

With that he saw a candle gleam
Borne by a hasty man,
And Judas caught him by the cloak
So swiftly as he ran.

"O let me walk with thee, kind friend--
I grope, I fail, I fall,
I have no lamp nor candle-light
And the night is over all."

"Full gladly, so thou make good speed,
I run to keep the tryst,
That was given to me at the gates of Hell,
By sweet King Jesus Christ.

"I am the thief whom God forgave,
On Calvary's bitter tree,
For 'To-night,' He said, 'thou shalt rest thine head
In Paradise, with Me.'"

"And I am the man that sinned such a sin
As the world remembers not,
That sold for a price the Lord of Life--
Judas Iscariot."

"Now God forbid, thou damnèd wretch,
That ever this should be,
That I should tryst with Jesus Christ,
In the company of thee."

The first robber went his way,
And Judas walked alone,
Mirk, mirk was the black midnight,
The heavy wind made moan.

Right so there came a second man
Was walking by the road:
"O brother, let me share thy light
As far as Hell's abode."

"Now well I fear, my brother dear,
Thou never wilt walk with me--
I am that thief which railed on Christ
All on His bitter tree.

"I cast shame on King Jesus then,
Wearing His painful crown,
And scorn upon His Royal Head,
Whence the pale sweat dripped down.

"O rudd-red were the five blest wounds
Where nails and spear went in,
A thousand, thousand years of Purgatory fire
Never can cleanse my sin."

"Why never, I ween," said Judas then
"Did two such sinners meet;
I sold King Christ to the bloody Jews
That pierced His Hands and Feet."

"Art thou that man," quoth the robber,
"Most cursed under skies?
God do so to me if I go with thee
To the gates of Paradise!"

The second robber went his way,
And Judas walked alone,
Till he was aware of a grey man,
That sat upon a stone,
And the lamp he had in his right hand
Shone brighter than the moon.

"Come hither, come hither, thou darkling man,
And bear me company,
This lamp I hold will give us light,
Enough for thee and me.

"Judas walks with the grey-clad man,
And fear is in his heart:
"Speak yet again, thou man in grey
And tell me what thou art."

"I bought a burden of deadly sin,
And needs must pay the price,I
bear it hither in my hand
To the gates of Paradise."

"Sin cannot lie upon thy heart
So heavy as on mine."
"Nay, sinner, whosoe'er thou art,
'Tis a heavier load than thine."
He hath not askèd Judas' name,
And Judas makes no sign."

If sin is heavy on thy heart,
And I must bear its weight,
It is fit that we should go together
To tryst at Hades gate.

"Judas walked with the grey-clad man
And feared to tell his name,
He clasped his hand in the barren land,
Bright burned the lanthorn's flame,
Brotherliwise and hand in hand,
To Paradise they came.

Satan looked out from Hades gate,
His hand upon the key,
"Good souls, before I let you in,
First tell me who ye be."

"We be two men that died of late
And come to keep Hell's tryst,
This is Judas Iscariot,
And I am Jesus Christ."

Interesting perspective. A lot of bad theology. Well worth the long read, though. Dorothy Sayers was a very intersting person.

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