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POEM: "INASMUCH AS YE DID IT NOT . . . "
If Jesus came to London,
Came to London to-day,
He would not go to the West End,
He would come down our way;
He'd talk with the children dancing
To the organ out in the street,
And say he was their big Brother,
And give them something to eat.
He wouldn't go to the mansions
Where the charitable live;
He'd come to the tenement houses
Where we ain't got nothing to give.
He'd come so kind and so homely,
And treat us to beer and bread,
And tell us how we ought to behave;
And we'd try to mind what He said.
In the warm bright West End churches
They sing and preach and pray,
They call us "Beloved brethren,"
But they do not act that way.
And when He came to the church door
He'd call out loud and free,
You stop that preaching and praying
And show what you've done for Me."
Then they'd say, "O Lord, we have given
To the poor both blankets and tracts,
And we've tried to make them sober,
And we've tried to teach them facts.
But they will sneak round to the drink-shop,
And pawn the blankets for beer,
And we find them very ungrateful,
But still we persevere."
Then He would say, "I told you
The time I was here before,
That you were all of you brothers,
All you that I suffered for.
I won't go into your churches,
I'll stop in the sun outside.
You bring out the men your brothers,
The men for whom I died!"
Out of our beastly lodgings,
From arches and doorways about,
They'd have to do as He told them,
They'd have to call us out.
Millions and millions and millions,
Thick and crawling like flies,
We should creep out to the sunshine
And not be afraid of His eyes.
He'd see what God's image looks like
When men have dealt with the same,
Wrinkled with work that is never done,
Swollen and dirty with shame.
He'd see on the children's forehead
The branded gutter-sign
That marks the girls to be harlots,
That dooms the boys to be swine.
Then He'd say, "What's the good of churches
When these have nowhere to sleep?
And how can I hear you praying
When they are cursing so deep?
I gave My Blood and My Body
That they might have bread and wine,
And you have taken your share and theirs
Of these good gifts of mine!"
Then some of the rich would be sorry,
And all would be very scared,
And they'd say, "But we never knew, Lord!"
And He'd say, "You never cared!"
And some would be sick and shameful
Because they'd know that they knew,
And the best would say, "We were wrong, Lord.
Now tell us what to do!"
I think He'd be sitting, likely,
For someone 'ud bring Him a chair,
With a common kid cuddled up on His knee
And the common sun on His hair;
And they'd be standing before Him,
And He'd say, "You know that you knew.
Why haven't you worked for your brothers
The same as I worked for you?
"For since you're all of you brothers
It's clear as God's blessed sun
That each must work for the others,
Not thousands work for one.
And the ones that have lived bone-idle
If they want Me to hear them pray,
Let them go and work for their livings
The only honest way!
"I've got nothing new to tell you,
You know what I always said -
But you've built their bones into churches
And stolen their wine and bread;
You with My Name on your foreheads,
Liar, and traitor, and knave,
You have lived by the death of your brothers,
These whom I died to save!"
I wish He would come and say it;
Perhaps they'd believe it then,
And work like men for their livings
And let us work like men.
Brothers? They don't believe it,
The lie on their lips is red.
They'll never believe till He comes again,
Or till we rise from the dead!
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