The Book of the Homeless/The Precious Blood

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The Book of the Homeless
Translation: "The Precious Blood"
by Paul Claudel, translated by Edith Wharton



Oh, what if Thou, that for a cup of water promisest
The illimitable sea,
Thou, Lord, dost also thirst?
Hast Thou not said, our blood shall quench Thee best
And first
Of any drink there be?

If then there be such virtue in it, Lord,
Ah, let us prove it now!
And, save by seeing it at Thy footstool poured,
How, Lord—oh, how?

If it indeed be precious and like gold,
As Thou hast taught,
Why hoard it? There's no wealth in gems unsold,
Nor joy in gems unbought.

Our sins are great, we know it; and we know
We must redeem our guilt;
Even so.

But tears are difficult for a man to shed,
And here is our blood poured out for France instead,
To do with as Thou wilt!

Take it, O Lord! And make it Thine indeed,
Void of all lien and fee.
Nought else we ask of Thee;
But if Thou needst our Love as we Thy Justice need,
Great must Thine hunger be!

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1926.

The author died in 1955, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 60 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.