You may have heard of Proclus, sir,
If you have been a reader;
And you may know a bit of her
Who helped the Lycian leader.
I have my doubts -- the head you "sport"
(Now mark me, don't get crusty)
Is hardly of the classic sort --
Your lore, I think, is fusty.
Most likely you have stuck to tracts
Flushed through with flaming curses --
I judge you, neighbour, by your acts --
So don't you damn my verses.
But to my theme. The Asian sage,
Whose name above I mention,
Lived in the pitchy Pagan age,
A life without pretension.
He may have worshipped gods like Zeus,
And termed old Dis a master;
But then he had a strong excuse --
He never heard a pastor.
However, it occurs to me
That, had he cut Demeter
And followed you, or followed me,
He wouldn't have been sweeter.
No doubt with "shepherds" of this time
He's not the "clean potato",
Because -- excuse me for my rhyme --
He pinned his faith to Plato.
But these are facts you can't deny,
My pastor, smudged and sooty,
His mind was like a summer sky --
He lived a life of beauty --
To lift his brothers' thoughts above
This earth he used to labour:
His heart was luminous with love --
He didn't wound his neighbour.
To him all men were just the same --
He never foamed at altars,
Although he lived ere Moody came --
Ere Sankey dealt in psalters.
The Lycian sage, my "reverend" sir,
Had not your chances ample;
But, after all, I must prefer
His perfect, pure example.
You, having read the Holy Writ --
The Book the angels foster --
Say have you helped us on a bit,
You overfed impostor?
What have you done to edify,
You clammy chapel tinker?
What act like his of days gone by --
The grand old Asian thinker?
Is there no deed of yours at all
With beauty shining through it?
Ah, no! your heart reveals its gall
On every side I view it.
A blatant bigot with a big
Fat heavy fetid carcass,
You well become your greasy "rig" --
You're not a second Arcas.
What sort of "gospel" do you preach?
What "Bible" is your Bible?
There's worse than wormwood in your speech,
You livid, living libel!
How many lives are growing gray
Through your depraved behaviour!
I tell you plainly -- every day
You crucify the Saviour!
Some evil spirit curses you --
Your actions never vary:
You cannot point your finger to
One fact to the contrary.
You seem to have a wicked joy
In your malicious labour,
Endeavouring daily to destroy
The neighbour's love for neighbour.
The brutal curses you eject
Make strong men dread to hear you.
The world outside your petty sect
Feels sick when it is near you.
No man who shuns that little hole
You call your tabernacle
Can have, you shriek, a ransomed soul --
He wears the devil's shackle.
And, hence the "Papist" by your clan
Is dogged with words inhuman,
Because he loves that friend of man
The highest type of woman --
Because he has that faith which sees
Before the high Creator
A Virgin pleading on her knees --
A shining Mediator!
God help the souls who grope in night --
Who in your ways have trusted!
I've said enough! the more I write,
The more I feel disgusted.
The warm, soft air is tainted through
With your pernicious leaven.
I would not live ~one hour~ with you
In your peculiar heaven!
Now mount your musty pulpit -- thump,
And muddle flat clodhoppers;
And let some long-eared booby "hump"
The plate about for coppers.
At priest and parson spit and bark,
And shake your "church" with curses,
You bitter blackguard of the dark --
With this I close my verses.