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W. Garrett Horder, comp. The Poets’ Bible: New Testament. 1895.

St. John the Baptist Beheaded in Prison (III.)

From the Parisian Breviary

Translated by Isaac Williams

BEHOLD, the price of courtly dance,

The fruit of the forbidden glance,

The head of Christ’s great harbinger!

The voice, which did repentance call,

From sylvans rude to palace hall;

Hushèd is that voice and tongue, and ne’er again shall stir.

Nay, is that tongue for ever stillèd?

Nay, it anew his ears hath fill’d,

That they can nothing hear no more;

Abroad the Baptist’s shadow stalks,

In secret to his spirit talks

Of that incestuous crime more sternly than before.

But holy John!—he was a cloud

Pregnant with light, which earth-ward bow’d,

Big with the rays of dawning day,

Disclosing the eternal Sun;

As its effulgence now begun,

Then hasted he himself in air to melt away.

For Thine alone, whose footsteps dwell

In seas of light inscrutable,

The glory and the praise is Thine;

Thee the Father everlasting,

And Thee the Incarnate Son we sing,

And Thee who bindest all, the Paraclete Divine.