Robert Bly: On "St. Judas"
The poem is moving; at the same time it is clear it is not a good poem. The transformation of Judas from a criminal who did something despicable into a saint is too quickly done – it is as if a man were to claim he dug a hole for one day and immediately comes out on the other side of the earth. Kierkegaard and others have defended awareness of guilt as one of the most valuable sensitivities. To say, however, that taking acts which increase guilt is a way toward sainthood is to give impossible directions. The poem is really an attempt to bend together, with his imagination, two ends of an iron bar – Wright’s conviction that he is in some sense a criminal, and his conviction that he is somehow a man of good will.