The Second Mile, The Shirt Off Your Back (Lent Poems 16)

And so outside they took him where
He was stripped and whipped and there
Outside they, blind-man’s-bluff-like, watched
The one who knew all seem to flail
As taunting him they whipped some more,
Called him to say who struck him;
Yet amongst the turgid roar
Of soldiers at their grown-up games
And Pax Romana’s golden splendour,
There he sat, or crouched, or swayed
And let the whips eat into him,
The tunic ripped right off his back,
And turned aside to let them hit
His other side once they’d struck
The first one blind, half-dead besides;
And there he took all, gave all, let
Himself be nothing who was all:
A lamb without a blemish who
Did not lift his voice to shout.

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