by Mikhail Strannik
The Remorse of Judas

José Ferraz de Almeida Júnior, “The Remorse of Judas” (1880)

Forgive the old man for his poor choice,
For his enormous guilt that never ends,
Since Pilate said his verdict in cold voice
And then, in hesitation, washed his hands.

Forgive me that the crowd lost its mind,
That it was overwhelmed with its bloodlust.
I was like all of them, and I was blind,
But I can’t say that it was just the past.

Forgive me for His pain—too great to expiate.
Like so many things, it was my fault.
I played my role ordained by fate,
The thirty silver pieces weren’t my goal.

I saw a very real human being’s face,
When Pharisees sold poisons as some honey.
I knew that the high priest named Caiaphas
Was seeking only power and money.

They chose just a bandit over Him,
They freed the highwayman and robber
Instead of the just Man who gave us dreams,
Whom we believed, whom we called “Rabbi.”

His pure faith and truth threatened the welfare
Of those ones whose sins were heavier than lead.
They hung Him on the cross on Golgotha’s hill, where
He had performed his last and greatest feat.

Forgive me, I can swear that I didn’t mean
To do what I had done and what I can’t dismiss.
I overly obeyed the powers that be,
I trusted men who pushed me into the abyss.

We are too weak to swim against the current,
Not every one of us has decent goals,
And we are full of fears, we are errant…
Sometimes the devil tempts our souls.

We like to pray, just feeling the enjoyment,
We aren’t so brave to look into Death’s eyes,
But we are seeking for forgiveness of the torment,
Which He endured, since He did believe in us.

February 10, 2011.

Translated from Russian by Maxim Sviridenkov.

About the author

Mikhail Strannik

Mikhail Strannik is the pen name of Mikhail Dymshyts, a Russian poet and fiction writer. Born in 1969, he graduated from the First Moscow State Medical University in 1995. His first book of poems On the edge of reality (Na grani realnosti) appeared in 2010. Since then he has published more than a dozen books of poetry and fiction for children and adults. Mikhail is a member of the Writers’ Union of Russia. For his literary work, he was awarded several Russian prizes, including Nekrasov Prize and Chekhov Prize. He lives in Moscow, Russia.

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