The Bulls

Six bulls I saw as black as jet,
With crimsoned horns and amber eyes
That chewed their cud without a fret,
And swished to brush away the flies,
Unwitting their soon sacrifice.

It is the Corpus Christi fête;
Processions crowd the bannered ways;
Before the alters women wait,
While men unite in hymns of praise,
And children look with angel gaze.

The bulls know naught of holiness,
To pious pomp their eyes are blind;
Their brutish brains will never guess
The sordid passions of mankind:
Poor innocents, they wait resigned.

Till in a black room each is penned,
While from above with cruel aim
Two torturers with lances bend
To goad their fieriness to flame,
To devil them to play the game.

The red with rage and mad with fear
They charge into the roaring ring;
Against the mockery most near
Of human might their hate they fling,
In futile, blind blood-boltering.

And so the day of unction ends;
Six bulls are dragged across the sand.
Ferocity and worship blends,
Religion and red thirst hold hands . . .
Dear Christ! 'Tis hard to understand!

by Robert William Service

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