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The Flagrant Dead
Torquemada to the Marranos
Swine you are, though you claim to be otherwise,
contumacious, deceptive, unholy, refractive.
Castile is full of you, as are Murcia, Andalusia,
Biscay, Leon, and Galicia; in sweetest Arragon
and Navarre you are everywhere. Cadiz and Seville,
where beauty lives, are unclean by your presence.
The olive groves of Cordoba, the orchards of Catalonia,
are withered by your practices, marred by your breath.
You are like sorcerers who worship the elements,
scattering dice, wheat, and beans, flying to the moon.

Then there are the Jews, outwardly faithless,
with whom, in secret, you will not break.
Come Good Friday, lest our needful vigilance fail,
they crucify and mock our weeping children.
With poisons their apothecaries torture us;
their surgeons carve us up like so much butter.
They spread outward from their unclean quarters,
stalking us in the streets with cutthroat intention.
With their wealth they pay us to fight their wars;
impossible to know the extent of their treasure.
A fine house to a Jew is worth no more than an ass;
the saddlebags of Jews are lined with gold,
just as, down to the last melted ducat, are their guts.

Wrapped in episcopal robes, you assume our dignities,
while the Holy Father, trusting and simple as ever,
foolishly exempts you from our proceedings.
Still, no disguise, I say, of baptism, no ennoblings
or corrupted testimony of traitorous children
(whose truthful witness we, with means, enforce)
will ever, while I labor, prevail against our flock.
The dangerous errors that cannot be condemned,
that which I cannot annul, disinter, or burn,
I will, at the least, while I live, degrade and reduce.

Such is the difficult work that engages us,
whose loving purpose is your safe deliverance.
Your clean linen on the Sabbath betrays you,
as does your omission of the “Gloria Patri” after psalms.
We observe, too, that you name children after kin
and slaughter beasts according to the ancient law.
Hence the scaffolding, the pyre, the “Quemadero,”
the miters on your heads with curving horns,
the gags in your mouths and cords around your necks,
all of which, with confinement in our “Houses of Mercy,”
are but caring inducements to your penitence.

Amend, I beseech you, be truly converted at last.
Whom can you trust among the crazed messianics,
the murderous Lollards, and the rebellious sects?
We are shelter from the flame that kindles as I speak,
unthinkable horrors in every kingdom and district.
Return, for error and delusion are everywhere,
whirlwind out of mind, holocaust now and yet to come,
no remission possible, limitless and final fire.