THEY killed a child to please the Gods
In earth’s young penitence,
And I have bled in that Babe’s stead
Because of innocence.
I bear the sins of sinful men
I am the meat of sacrifice,
Between the waving tufts of jungle-grass,
Great is the sword and mighty is the pen,
The torn boughs trailing o’er the tusks aslant,
The black bulk heaving where the oxen pant,
Dark children of the mere and marsh,
Their pasture is in no man’s land,
But woe to those that break their sleep,
Pigs and Buffaloes.
The beasts are very wise,
Their mouths are clean of lies,
They talk one to the other,
Bullock to bullock’s brother
Resting after their labours,
Each in stall with his neighbours.
But man with goad and whip,
Breaks up their fellowship,
Shouts in their silky ears
Filling their soul with fears.
When he has ploughed the land,
He says: “They understand.”
But the beasts in stall together,
Freed from the yoke and tether,
Say as the torn flanks smoke:
“Nay, ’twas the whip that spoke.”