Counsel—In the South

C
My boy, not of your will nor mine
You keep the mountain pass and wait,
Restless, for evil gold to shine
And hold you to your fate.

A stronger Hand than yours gave you
The lawless sword—you know not why.
That you must live is all too true,
And other men must die.

My boy, be brigand if you must,
But face the traveller in your track:
Stand one to one, and never thrust
The dagger in his back.

Nay, make no ambush of the dark.
Look straight into your victim’s eyes;
Then—let his free soul, like a lark,
Fly, singing, toward the skies.

My boy, if Christ must be betrayed,
And you must the betrayer be,
Oh, marked before the worlds were made!
What help is there for me?

Ah, if the prophets from their graves
Demand such blood of you as this,
Take Him, I say, with swords and staves,
But—never with a kiss!
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