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Grace Forfeited: Adam, Tamerlan, and the Lady

Poetry

Below is a first for WORLDmag.com but a new start of an old tradition in American journalism: the news poem. Hardly a vile murder or a military victory went by without colonial poets bemoaning or celebrating the occasion in verse, with the work then published on a single page “broadside” and sold for a penny. Happily, my favorite pastor/theologian, John Piper, is also a poet, and below are his thoughts on justice in regard to Connecticut’s school shooting and Boston’s Marathon bombing. —Marvin Olasky

Grace Forfeited
Adam, Tamerlan, and the Lady

Was Adam Lanza’s bullet to the head,
With all its millisecond length of dread
And suffering, a fitting recompense
For twenty children dead? 

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                                                   And the events
Of Boston’s bloody marathon—is one 
Hour’s bullet-riddled dying how it’s done?
Is that the penalty for killing three,
And ripping off our legs, as if a knee
Could run? 

                       Can Tamerlan and Adam rob 
So easily the State of its last job
Of punishing these crimes?

                                                   Perhaps. But not
The Lady Justice. No. In truth she got
Her verdict. Firm. And she is not so blind
That any criminal, by her consigned
To suffer suitably, could ever slip
Away through merest mortal stings, or skip
Her perfect rectitude through suicide.

Nor is her Ladyship so dignified 
Among the cynical elite that she
Would bow to their philosophy,
And lose her right to judge—her sacred breath—
By not, at last, existing after death.

As if this bloody universe were one 
Long empty triumph of injustice, done
By no one, leaping into nothingness 
From dreams, where there is nothing to transgress.

No. Those last pistol pops in Sandy Hook 
And Watertown pursued and overtook
Their prey, and echoed like a slamming door,
Heard on the other side of time, and tore
Away the fatal hope that they were dead.
They were not dead. Nor she, enflaming dread.
In her right hand the Lady held the chains,
And in her left the everlasting pains.

John Piper, May 8, 2013

John Piper
John Piper

John is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary.

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