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Judas
by Jonathan Swift  /  poetry  /  13 Nov 2007

By the just vengeance of incensed skies,
Poor Bishop Judas late repenting dies.
The Jews engaged him with a paltry bribe,
Amounting hardly to a crown a-tribe;
Which though his conscience forced him to restore,
(And parsons tell us, no man can do more,)
Yet, through despair, of God and man accurst,
He lost his bishopric, and hang'd or burst.
Those former ages differ'd much from this;
Judas betray'd his master with a kiss:
But some have kiss'd the gospel fifty times,
Whose perjury's the least of all their crimes;
Some who can perjure through a two inch-board,
Yet keep their bishoprics, and 'scape the cord:
Like hemp, which, by a skilful spinster drawn
To slender threads, may sometimes pass for lawn.
  As ancient Judas by transgression fell,
And burst asunder ere he went to hell;
So could we see a set of new Iscariots
Come headlong tumbling from their mitred chariots;
Each modern Judas perish like the first,
Drop from the tree with all his bowels burst;
Who could forbear, that view'd each guilty face,
To cry, "Lo! Judas gone to his own place,
His habitation let all men forsake,
And let his bishopric another take!"
                                        (1731)

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