Analysis of Saint Judas

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The analysis of James Wright’s Saint Judas

Saint Judas was written by James Wright at the end of the 60s. Considering the format this poem can be regarded as a traditional Petrarchan sonnet with a rhyme of ababcdcdefgefg; however, the content of this poem and the way it was written is different. In this poem James Wright tried to mix the dramatic monologue with the Petrarchan sonnet, which is usually written in poet’s tone. Instead in this poem, the speaker is Judas: this enables the revealing of his thoughts and actions directly to the reader, so as to enhance his temperament and character. The first half of the sonnet starts with Judas’s intention to suicide:” When I went out to kill myself, I caught/ A pack of hoodlums beating up a man. / Running to spare his suffering, I forgot/ My names, my numbers, how my day began,” Judas, on his way to kill to kill himself in order to escape from roman soldier’s arrest, has come across a man who has been beaten by a gang of thugs and left to die, and in his rush to assist the poor man, he forgets his own condition. The next four lines jumped to his reminiscence,” How soldiers milled around the garden stone/ And sang amusing songs; how all that day/ Their javalins measured crowds; how I alone/ Bargained the proper coins, and slipped away.” Judas recalled the scene from the past where he betrays the man he’s spent the past three years of his life following and learning from. Judas realizes how damned he truly is and the conflict that creates with the man he’s trying to save. In the final 6 lines, Judas comes to face his own damnation, and makes up his mind that his condition is no reason to allow another man to suffer the pain. “Banished from heaven, I found this victim beaten,/ Stripped, kneed, and left to cry. Dropping my rope/ Aside, I ran, ignored the uniforms: / Then I remembered bread my flesh had eaten, /The kiss that ate my flesh. Flayed without hope, / I held the man for nothing in my arms.” With his...
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