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The Robe of Christ Analysis

Author: Poetry of Joyce Kilmer Type: Poetry Views: 178

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(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 Robe -- I look -- I hope --

I fear -- but 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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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

.: Interpretation :.

My simplistic interpretation of this poem is that the devil can come in many forms:
Overtly, as a friend, as a woman, or even as a semblance if Christ Himself. These are sorted in ascending difficulty - it is so easy to rebuke the devil if he comes as himself, but it is so hard to recognize religious corruption.
In fact, many words of Jesus in Matthew/Mark/Luke/John are directed towards hypocrites within the religious community. Possibly this is because such hypocrisy is especially heinous, because it takes something sacred and makes it profane. Or, perhaps it is just harder to discern, so Jesus (and his followers) emphasized the rebukes to ensure that we are aware of the problem (whereas we are already aware of overt forms of sin).

| Posted on 2008-04-06 | by a guest

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