Short Stories
All Titles

In Association with Amazon.com

Home > Authors Index > Browse all available works of William Rose Benet > Text of Atonement

A poem by William Rose Benet


Title:     Atonement
Author: William Rose Benet [More Titles by Benet]

Through flamelit Hades
To win a realm,
I rode with my lady's
Sleeve on my helm.
With fiends around me
And fiends before,
I rode, and found me
At an iron door.

My pulses hammered.
I clubbed my spear
And knocked. Fiends clamored.
I felt Man's fear
When mysteries awe him.
The door, with din,
Swung wide. I saw him
Who sat therein.

Oh, amaranthine
Are Love's estates,
But Rhadamanthine
The Judge awaits.
My blazon and banner
He stared them through
And said, "What manner
Of man are you?"

I stood stripped naked,
Stark to atone.
My body achèd
Through every bone.
A blast blew through me.
I drank black gall.
I saw he knew me.
I told him all.

"The heart I stare in
Is black as night,"
He said, "but therein
There burns a light.
White hands encore it
To guard its grace,
And strangely o'er it
Bends a still face.

"Small light--great wonder!
Through all my hall
You flash asunder
The murky pall.
Walls grow unreal--
All Hell a wraith,--
Oh white, ideal
Flame of her faith!"

"Here I surrender,
White flame of trust!
Knave, strike some splendor
From this your dust.
Oh gross, weak, dumb thing,
Rise--dare a part!
For here--is something
That breaks my heart!"

[The end]
William Rose Benet's poem: Atonement