|ELCore.Net > Poetry > Catholic Poets > Poems of Joyce Kilmer|
|The Robe of Christ|
|(For Cecil Chesterton)|
At the foot of the Cross on Calvary|
Three soldiers sat and diced,
And one of them was the Devil
And he won the Robe of Christ.
When the Devil comes in his proper form|
To the chamber where I dwell,
I know him and make the Sign of the Cross
Which drives him back to Hell.
And when he comes like a friendly man|
And puts his hand in mine,
The fervour in his voice is not
From love or joy or wine.
And when he comes like a woman,|
With lovely, smiling eyes,
Black dreams float over his golden head
Like a swarm of carrion flies.
Now many a million tortured souls|
In his red halls there be:
Why does he spend his subtle craft
In hunting after me?
Kings, queens and crested warriors|
Whose memory rings through time,
These are his prey, and what to him
Is this poor man of rhyme,
That he, with such laborious skill,|
Should change from role to role,
Should daily act so many a part
To get my little soul?
Oh, he can be the forest,|
And he can be the sun,
Or a buttercup, or an hour of rest
When the weary day is done.
I saw him through a thousand veils,|
And has not this sufficed?
Now, must I look on the Devil robed
In the radiant Robe of Christ?
He comes, and his face is sad and mild,|
With thorns his head is crowned;
There are great bleeding wounds in his feet,
And in each hand a wound.
How can I tell, who am a fool,|
If this be Christ or no?
Those bleeding hands outstretched to me!
Those eyes that love me so!
I see the RobeI lookI hope|
I fearbut there is one
Who will direct my troubled mind;
Christ’s Mother knows her Son.
O Mother of Good Counsel, lend|
Intelligence to me!
Encompass me with wisdom,
Thou Tower of Ivory!
“This is the Man of Lies,” she says,|
“Disguised with fearful art:
He has the wounded hands and feet,
But not the wounded heart.”
Beside the Cross on Calvary|
She watched them as they diced.
She saw the Devil join the game
And win the Robe of Christ.
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Lane Core Jr. (email@example.com)
Created April 1, 2001; not revised.