The Blind Bug

1890




(The first 5 verses and 2 lines are repeated in the Dedication from
Barrack Room Ballads (1892) apart from the passages underlined)



BEYOND the path of the outmost sun, through utter darkness hurled -
Further than ever comet flared or vagrant star dust swirled -
Live such as sailed and fought and ruled and loved and made our world.

They are purged of pride because they died, they know the worth of their bays;
They sit at wine with the Maidens Nine and the Gods of the Elder Days;
It is their will to serve or be still as fitteth Our Father's praise.

'Tis theirs to sweep through Azrael's keep, where the clanging legions are,
To buffet a path through the Pit's red wrath when God goes forth to war,
Or hang with the reckless Seraphim on the rein of a red-maned star.

They take their mirth in the joy of the Earth, they do not grieve for her pain;
They know of toil and the end of toil; they know God's Law is plain;
So they whistle the Devil to make them sport who know that sin is vain.

And oft-times cometh our wise Lord God, Master of every trade,
And tells them tales of his daily toil, of Edens newly made;
And they rise to their feet as He passes by, gentlemen unafraid.

To those who are cleansed of black Desire, Sorrow, and Lust, and Shame -
Gods for they knew the heart of men, men for they stooped to Fame -
To these, a peer 'mid his courtly peers, the Curate of Meudon came.

' I have fished for frogs in the stagnant dark, and here is my catch ' quoth he,
' The Soul of a little Lawyer Clerk that whines like an angry bee,
'Brethren all' -and they saw it crawl in the open palm released -
' This bug hath flown from a New Sorbonne to call me a filthy priest.

' Yea, it must turn to a guild to learn the nature of right and wrong,
And wear its Soul at its buttonhole, and finger it all day long,
And lose its Soul if a gypsy troll the catch of a lewd old song. '

He flipped the Blind bug into the dark, and grinned Gargantua's grin:
The Great Gods heaved them back, and laughed till Heaven shook to the din -
And O, to have heard the Great Gods laugh, I had sinned the Blind Bug's sin.