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The kiss of Caiaphas ~ Oscar Wilde

Hanging is killing a person by suspending them from the neck with a noose or ligature. Hanging has been a common method of capital punishment since the Middle Ages, and is the primary execution method in numerous countries and regions. The first known account of execution by hanging is in Homer's Odyssey. Hanging is also a method of suicide.


  • ... Now when they had tidied all the room,
    They led the women from the well-built hall
    Between the round-house and the sacred fence
    About the court, and penned them in a strait
    Whence there was no escape. Then to the others
    First spake the wise Telemachus:
      ‘Now never by a clean death let me take
    These women’s lives, who on my head have poured
    Disgrace, and on my mother, and were used
    To lie beside the suitors.’
      Upon the word he tied to a great column
    The cable of a blue-prowed ship, and slung it
    About the round-house, stretching it high up
    So that the feet of none might touch the ground.
    And, as when thrushes with long wings, or doves
    Dash right into a snare set in a thicket,
    When they are making for their rest, and ’tis
    A cruel bed that takes them, so the women
    Held in a row their heads, and round the necks
    Of all were nooses cast, that they might die
    A death most piteous. With their feet they writhed
    A little while—not long.
    • Homer, Odyssey, XXII, 427-480
    • William Marris, transl., The Odyssey of Homer (1925)
  • And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
    • Gospel of Matthew, XXVIII, 5 (KJV)
    • Compare Acts I, 18: Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
  • If you're born to be hanged then you'll never be drowned.
  • We have been rinsed and laundered by the rain,
    And by the sunlight dried and blackened too.
    Magpie and crow have plucked our eyeballs twain
    And cropped our eyebrows and the beards we grew.
    • François Villon, Ballade des pendus (1489)
    • Richard Wilbur, transl., "Ballade of the Hanged Men", Poetry (Autumn 2012)
  • And my poor fool is hang'd! No, no, no life!
    Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life,
    And thou no breath at all? Thou'lt come no more,
    Never, never, never, never, never!
  • O little did my mother think
    When first she cradled me,
    That I would turn a rovin’ boy
    And die on the gallows tree.
  • He does not die a death of shame
      On a day of dark disgrace,
    Nor have a noose about his neck,
      Nor a cloth upon his face,
    Nor drop feet foremost through the floor
      Into an empty space.
    He does not sit with silent men
      Who watch him night and day;
    Who watch him when he tries to weep,
      And when he tries to pray;
    Who watch him lest himself should rob
      The prison of its prey.
    He does not wake at dawn to see
      Dread figures throng his room,
    The shivering Chaplain robed in white,
      The Sheriff stern with gloom,
    And the Governor all in shiny black,
      With the yellow face of Doom.
    He does not rise in piteous haste
      To put on convict-clothes,
    While some coarse-mouthed Doctor gloats, and notes
      Each new and nerve-twitched pose,
    Fingering a watch whose little ticks
      Are like horrible hammer-blows.
    He does not know that sickening thirst
      That sands one’s throat, before
    The hangman with his gardener’s gloves
      Slips through the padded door,
    And binds one with three leathern thongs,
      That the throat may thirst no more.
    He does not bend his head to hear
      The Burial Office read,
    Nor, while the terror of his soul
      Tells him he is not dead,
    Cross his own coffin, as he moves
      Into the hideous shed.
    He does not stare upon the air
      Through a little roof of glass:
    He does not pray with lips of clay
      For his agony to pass;
    Nor feel upon his shuddering cheek
      The kiss of Caiaphas.
  • They hanged him as a beast is hanged:
      They did not even toll
    A requiem that might have brought
      Rest to his startled soul,
    But hurriedly they took him out,
      And hid him in a hole.
    They stripped him of his canvas clothes,
      And gave him to the flies:
    They mocked the swollen purple throat,
      And the stark and staring eyes: ...
  • What, still alive at twenty-two,
    A clean, upstanding chap like you?
    Sure, if your throat ’tis hard to slit,
    Slit your girl’s, and swing for it.
    Like enough, you won’t be glad,
    When they come to hang you, lad:
    But bacon’s not the only thing
    That’s cured by hanging from a string.
  • Bill Stein: Howdy, folks, howdy. This is your old friend, Bill Stein, bringing you a jerk-by-jerk description of the triple hanging of the Mushroom Murder Mob. This broadcast is coming to you from Hangemall Prison. We’re at the gallows site, and it’s a beautiful day for a hanging.
  • Quick? I thought of the Austrian executioners who had hung on to the legs of their strangling prisoner to finish the job, until I brought them the British method.

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