I think when Judas' mother heard

His first faint cry the night

That he was born, that worship stirred

Her at the sound and sight.

She thought his was as fair a frame

As flesh and blood had worn;

I think she made this lovely name

For him --- "Star of my morn."


As any mother's son he grew

From spring to crimson spring;

I think his eyes were black, or blue,

His hair curled like a ring.

His mother's heart-strings were a lute

Whereon he all day played;

She listened rapt, abandoned, mute,

To every note he made.


I think he knew the growing Christ,

And played with Mary's son,

And where more mortal craft sufficed,

There Judas may have won.

Perhaps he little cared or knew,

So folly-wise is youth,

That he whose hand his hand clung to

Was flesh-embodied Truth;


Until one day he heard young Christ,

With far-off eyes agleam,

Tell of a mystic, solemn tryst

Between him and a dream.

And Judas listened, wonder-eyed,

Until the Christ was through,

Then said, "And I, though good betide,

Or ill, will go with you."


And so he followed, heard Christ preach,

Saw how by miracle

The blind man saw, the dumb got speech,

The leper found him well.

And Judas in those holy hours

Loved Christ, and loved Him much,

And in his heart he sensed dead flowers

Bloom at the Master's touch.


And when Christ felt the death hour creep

With sullen, drunken lurch,

He said to Peter, "Feed my sheep,

And build my holy church."

He gave to each the special task

That should be his to do,

But reaching one, I hear Him ask,

"What shall I give to you?"

Then Judas in his hot desire

Said, "Give me what you will."

Christ spoke to him with words of fire,

"Then, Judas, you must kill

One whom you love, One who loves you

As only God's son can:

This is the work for you to do

To save the creature man."

"And men to come will curse your name,

And hold you up to scorn;

In all the world will be no shame

Like your; this is love's thorn.


It takes strong will of heart and soul,

But man is under ban.

Think, Judas, can you play this role

In heaven's mystic plan?"


So Judas took the sorry part,

Went out and spoke the word,

And gave the kiss that broke his heart,

But no one knew or heard.

And no one knew what poison ate

Into his palm that day,

Where, bright and damned, the monstrous weight

Of thirty white coins lay.


It was not death that Judas found

Upon a kindly tree;

The man was dead long ere he bound

His throat as final fee.

And who can say if on that day

When gates of pearl swung wide,

Christ did not go His honored way

With Judas by His side?


I think somewhere a table round

Owns Jesus as its head,

And there the saintly twelve are found

Who followed where He led.

And Judas sits down with the rest,

And none shrinks from His hand,

For there the worst is as the best,

And there they understand.


And you may think of Judas, friend,

As one who broke his word,

Whose neck came to a bitter end

For giving up his Lord.

But I would rather think of him

As the little Jewish lad

Who gave young Christ heart, soul, and limb,

And all the love he had.


Countee Cullen (1903-1946)