Don Juan's Judgment

This side of heaven, its great gates blank against him,
At last before no earthly judge he stood.
But, still himself, despite his body's end,
Companioned still by old audacity,
Don Juan pled boldly, " Angel, even on earth,
Few are condemned without the living voice
In person, of the injured, " The Archangel smiled
For many centuries had intervened
Since walked with Daughters of Men the Sons of God
As in the Scriptures told, and practice left
Is wisdom lost, aye, even with angels, lost)....
" Witnesses, Don Juan? — they shall not lack! "
" Aye, Living Witness! " Don Juan affirmed,
" For though, without obscurity of a word,
Your hand writes what eternity attests,
Since here in heaven Justice has her seat
Of central probity, none should be condemned
Without an utmost weight of testimony. "

The Archangel, leaning over from the Book
In which the tale of all men's deeds is kept,
Missioned his waiting, wing-swift messengers
Till all the sky seemed full of falling stars
To people looking upward from the earth...

Women, from berry-brown to starriest white,
Summoned, alive or dead, from everywhere,
To damn their arch-betrayer, Don Juan!
Of every height, of almost every age,
From hedge to court, from queen to scullery maid, —
All the known thousand that he had assailed
By multiform and various assault —
They came, alive or dead, from everywhere:
They came from the remotest coigns of earth;
They came, unbodied, from hell's wrapping flame
Respited, or from purgatory's dole, —
From heaven's brightest, heaven's happiest nook:
Coming, the innocent Archangel thought,
To damn the arch-betrayer, Don Juan....

Yet, ruined and wronged and wantonly betrayed,
Unwillingly they came, answering the summons,
Their lips relating only love for him:
For, looking into their betrayer's face,
They only thought of moments, not of years,
They only thought of moonlight, laughter, songs,
The sweet elapse of midnight in his arms,
The too-soon coming of unwished-for dawn....

Yet one or two stood ready to condemn!

But, surging up in hosts unanimous,
Straightway the others swore ten thousand lies
To save their lover from the one or two
Who proved so false to love by telling truth...

Revealing avenues of inward pearl
The gates of heaven opened gloriously...

" Pass in, Don Juan, — when women lie for love
Archangels must, defeated, keep their word! "
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