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    Poem: “Mary Magdalen Responds to the Harsh Judge”

    By Rhina P. Espaillat

    March 16, 2021

    Available languages: Español


    Be honest, please: I long to know
    why judging others makes you glad:
    does my uncleanness make you sad,
    or lift you high as I am low?
    Do you intend to heal the bad?
    Or is it, rather, your delight
    to humiliate and slight
    those who are used and spoken of
    with cruel contempt and never love,
    though they may well please you by night?.

    I’ve heard a man from Bethlehem—
    a man of peace, both good and humble—
    steadies the fallible who stumble,
    and if they fall he raises them,
    rather than scornfully condemn.
    Because he has known pain and fear,
    that youthful carpenter holds dear
    not just the virtuous but the rest;
    at love and counsel both, the best,
    by far more tender than severe.


    La Magdalena responde a quien juzga con dureza

    Si juzgar es lo que gozas,
    explícame—y sé sincero—
    tu motivo verdadero:
    ¿Es tildarme de asquerosa?
    ¿O enseñar a ser virtuosa
    la infelíz de mala fama
    que se usa y no se ama?
    ¿O te engrandece humillar—
    y en público despreciar—
    la que gozas en la cama?

    Dicen que en Belén nació
    un hombre bueno, apacible—
    con piedad hacia el falible:
    sostiene al que tropezó
    y levanta al que cayó.
    Dicen que es buen consejero
    ese joven carpintero,
    porque conoce el dolor,
    sabe juzgar con amor,
    y es más tierno que severo.

    Read an interview with the poet.

    Contributed By RhinaEspaillat Rhina P. Espaillat

    Rhina P. Espaillat, a bilingual poet, is winner of numerous prizes including the T. S. Eliot Prize, the Richard Wilbur Award, and (twice) the Howard Nemerov Sonnet award.

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