2. The next day's sun looked mildly down On roof and street in our quiet town And stark and black in the morning air, The gallows-tree on the courthouse square. And the Hangman stood at his usual stand With the yellow hemp in his busy hand; With his buckshot eye and his jaw like a pike And his air so knowing and business like. And we cried, "Hangman, have you not done Yesterday. with the alien one?" Then we fell silent, and stood amazed, "Oh, not for him was the gallows raised." He laughed a laugh as he looked at us: "...Did you think I'd gone to all this fuss To hang one man? That's a thing I do To stretch a rope when the rope is new." Then one cried "Murder!" One cried "Shame!" And into our midst the Hangman came To that man's place. "Do you hold," said he, "with him that was meant for the gallows-tree?" And he laid his hand on that one's arm. And we shrank back in quick alarm, And we gave him way, and no one spoke Out of fear of his Hangman's cloak. That night we saw with dread surprise The Hangman's scaffold had grown in size. Fed by the blood beneath the chute The gallows-tree had taken root; Now as wide, or a little more, Than the steps that led to the courthouse door, As tall as the writing, or nearly as tall, Halfway up on the courthouse wall.
3. The third he took-we had all heard tell Was a user and infidel, and "What," said the Hangman "have you to do With the gallows-bound, and he a Jew?" And we cried out, "Is this one he Who has served you well and faithfully?" The Hangman smiled: "It's a clever scheme to try the strength of the gallows-beam." The fourth man's dark, accusing song Had scratched out comfort hard and long; And what concern, he gave us back. "Have you for the doomed--the doomed and black?" The fifth. The sixth. And we cried again, "Hangman, Hangman, is this the last?" "It's a trick," he said. "that we hangmen know For easing the trap when the trap springs slow."" And so we ceased, and asked no more, As the Hangman tallied his bloody score: And sun by sun, and night by night, The gallows grew to monstrous height. The wings of the scaffold opened wide Till they covered the square from side to side: And the monster cross-beam, looking down. Cast its shadow across the town.
4. Then through the town the Hangman came And called in the empty streets my name- And I looked at the gallows soaring tall And thought, "There is no one left at all For hanging." And so he calls to me To help pull down the gallows-tree. And I went out with right good hope To the Hangman's tree and the Hangman's rope. He smiled at me as I came down To the courthouse square through the silent town. And supple and stretched in his busy hand Was the yellow twist of the strand. And he whistled his tune as he tried the trap And it sprang down with a ready snap And then with a smile of awful command He laid his hand upon my hand. "You tricked me. Hangman!," I shouted then. "That your scaffold was built for other men... And I no henchman of yours," I cried, "You lied to me. Hangman. foully lied!" Then a twinkle grew in the buckshot eye, "Lied to you? Tricked you?" he said. "Not I. For I answered straight and I told you true" The scaffold was raised for none but you. For who has served me more faithfully Then you with your coward's hope?" said he, "And where are the others that might have stood Side by your side in the common good?," "Dead," I whispered, and sadly "Murdered," the Hangman corrected me: "First the alien, then the Jew... I did no more than you let me do." Beneath the beam that blocked the sky. None had stood so alone as I And the Hangman strapped me, and no voice there Cried "Stay!" for me in the empty square.