Patrick Regan has kindly shared the material from his Robert Buchanan site with readers of the Victorian Web, who may wish to consult the original.

Man with the Red Right Hand knelt in the night and prayed:
'Pity and spare, O God, the mortal whom thou hast made!
Strengthen the house he builds, adorn his glad roof-tree,
Blessing the bloody spoil he gathers on earth and sea!
The bird and the beast are blind, and they do not understand,
But lo! thy servant kneels!' said Man with the Red Right Hand.

God went by in the Storm and answered never a word.
But the birds of the air shrieked loud and the beasts of the mountain heard,
And the dark sad flocks of the Sea and the Sea-lambs gentle-eyed
Wail'd from their oozy folds, and the mild Sea-kine replied,
And the pity of God fell down like darkness on sea and land,
But froze to ice in the heart of Man with the Red Right Hand.

Then up he rose from his knee and brandish'd the crimson knife,
Saying: 'I thank thee, God, for making me Lord of Life!
The beasts and the birds are mine, and the flesh and blood of the same,
Baptised in the blood of these, I gladden and praise thy name!
Laden with spoils of life thy servant shall smiling stand!'
And out on the Deep be hied, this Man with the Red Right Hand.

Afar on the lonely isles the cry of the slaughtered herds
Rose on the morning air, to the scream of the flying birds,
And the birds fell down and bled with pitiful human cries,
And the butcher'd Lambs of the Sea lookt up with pleading eyes,
And the blood of bird and beast was red on sea and land,
And drunk with the joy of Death was Man with the Red Right Hand.

And the fur of the slain sea-lamb was a cloak for his bride to wear,
And the broken wing of the bird was set in his leman's hair,
And the flesh of the ox and lamb were food for his brood to eat,
And the skin of the mild sea-kine was shoon on his daughter's feet!
And the cry of the slaughtered things was loud over sea and land
As he knelt once more and prayed, upraising his Red Right Hand.

'Pity me, Master and Lord! spare me and pass me by,
Grant me Eternal Life, though the beast and the bird must die!
Behold I worship thy Law, and gladden in all thy ways,
The bird and the beast are dumb, but behold I sing thy praise,
The bird and the beast are blind, and they do not understand,
But lo, I see and know!' said Man with the Red Right Hand.

God went by in the Storm and answered never a word.
But deep in the soul of Man the cry of a God was heard:
'Askest thou pity, thou, who ne'er drew pitying breath?
Askest thou fulness of life, whose life is built upon Death?
Even as thou metest to these, thy kin of the sea and land,
Shall it be meted to thee, O Man of the Red Right Hand!

'When thou namest bird and beast, and blessest them passing by,
When thy pleasure is built no more on the pain of things that die,
When thy bride no longer wears the spoil of thy butcher's knife,
Perchance thy prayer may reach the ears of the Lord of Life;
Meantime be slain with the things thou slayest on sea and land, —
Yea, pass in thy place like those, O Man with the Red Right Hand!'

(From Song's of Empire)


Victorian Web Robert Buchanan Contents

Last modified 27 September 2002