54 Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house. But Peter followed at a distance.
55 Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them.
56 And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, “This man was also with Him.”
57 But he denied Him, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.”
58 And after a little while another saw him and said, “You also are of them.”
But Peter said, “Man, I am not!”
59 Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, “Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.”
60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!”
Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.
61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”
62 So Peter went out and wept bitterly.
Baudelaire's poem, Le Reniement de St. Pierre, captures the kind of blasphemous empathy one might feel for this denial. Here's the last verse:
— Certes, je sortirai, quant à moi, satisfait
D'un monde où l'action n'est pas la soeur du rêve;
Puissé-je user du glaive et périr par le glaive!
Saint Pierre a renié Jésus... il a bien fait!
I am quite satisfied to leave so bored
A world, where dream and action disunite.
I'd use the sword, to perish by the sword.
Peter denied his Master?... He did right!
— Roy Campbell, Poems of Baudelaire (New York: Pantheon Books, 1952)
The kind of decision with which Peter was faced is one of perennial difficulty. Baudelaire kicks against the traces of martyrdom in the face of the banality of evil. Kind of...