Judgement Town – a parable

A chill wind whispers through the streets,
It seems a voice, or something near;
The clouds are white as winding sheets,
The people glance around in fear.
A gull emits a lonely cry,
As if in answer to the wind.
A pall of guilt hangs from the sky –
All know who cheated, lied and sinned.
There is no hiding in this town,
From consequence of each misdeed;
You’ll reap the fruit of evil seed
That finds this place such fertile ground.

It once was otherwise, you see.
The sun shone down, the breeze was mild;
The park was filled sounds of glee,
The joy of woman, man and child.
Each one had secrets, things they’d done,
And wanted others not to know;
But all were blithe beneath the sun
While crimes and mischiefs didn’t show.
Thus life was easy, while it lasted:
All were confident and gay.
Until occurred that awful day,
And now the town is bleak and blasted.

It happened thus, so pay attention:
A trav’ler came upon the road.
None guessed that he had ill intention –
Trust was their accustomed mode.
They asked whence he had come, and he
Declared he was no man of note;
No bishop, lawyer or grandee –
A poor man in a tattered coat.
Before the town, he loud confessed
To countless crimes, both great and mean.
The townsfolk thought it quite obscene
That justice should go unaddressed.

They tried him there and then on charges
Taken from his own confession.
(The town’s chief legal man enlarges
On penalties for each transgression.)
They whipped and hanged him in a trice,
But madness fell upon the crowd:
Each found he knew his neighbour’s vice
As if the deed were spoke aloud!
Now misery and guilt abound,
With sorrow etched on every face;
And that’s how this unlucky place
Acquired the name of Judgement Town.

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