The Massacre of the Innocents


By William Jay Smith

Because I believe in the community of little children,
Because I have suffered such little children to be slain;
I have gazed upon the sunlight, dazed, bewildered,
As is a child by nothing more than rain.

Not until I can no longer climb,
Until my life becomes the tallest tree,
And every limb of it a lint of shame,
Shall I look out in time, in time to see

Again those who were so small they could but die,
Who had only their vast innocence to give:
That I may tell them, pointing down the sky,
How very beautiful it was to live.

(Poetry August 1946, p 241)


(Image Credit 1: Peter Paul Rubens, The Massacre of the Innocents / Art Gallery of Ontario)

(Image Credit 2: Léon Cognate, Massacre des Innocents / Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes)