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General William Booth Enters into Heaven



[Le Général William Booth entre au paradis]

Booth led bodly with his big bass drum
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb ?) Hallelujah
Saints smiled gravely and they said, «He's come.»
(...washed in the blood of the Lamb ?)

Walking lepers followed rank on rank,
Lurching bravoes from the ditches dank,
Drabs from the alleyways and drug fiends pale–
Minds still passion-ridden, soul powers frail :–
Vermin-eaten saints with mouldy breath,
Unwashed legions with the ways of Death–
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb ?)

Evry slum had sent its half-a-score
The round world over. (Booth had groaned for more.)
Ev'ry banner that the wide world flies
Bloomed with glory and transcendent dyes.
Big-voiced lassies made their banjos bang,
Tranced, fanatical they shrieked and sang :–
«Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb ?»

Hallelujah, Lord ! It was queer to see
Bull-necked convicts with that land make free.
Loons with trumpets blowed a blare–
(Onward) upward thro' the golden air !
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb ?)

Jesus came from the courthouse door,
Stretched his hands above the passing poor.
Booth saw not, but led his queer ones...
Round and round, the mighty courthouse square.

Yet, in an instant all that blear review
Marched on spotless, clad in raiment new.
The lame were straightened, withered limbs uncurled,
And blind eyes opened on a new sweet world.
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb ?)

Vachel Lindsay (1879-1931)