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Poem by Lewis Morris
In Regent Street
ONE of the nightly hundreds who pass Wearily, hopelessly, under the gas. But the old sad words had a strange new tone, And the wild laugh seemed to sink to a moan. So that turning as one constrained to look, The strange sight stifled the voice of rebuke : For I looked on a girl's face pure and fair, Blue-eyed, and crowned with a glory of hair, Such as my dead child-sister might own, Were she not a child still, but a woman grown ; Full of the tender graces that come To the cherished light of an ancient home ; Even to that touch of a high disdain, Which is born of a name without blot or stain. Strange ; as if one should chance to meet An angel of light in that sordid street ! ' O child, what misery brings you here, To this place of vileness and weeping and fear?' ' I am no more than the rest,' she said, Proudly averting her beautiful head ! Then no response, till some kinder word Stole in unawares, and her heart was stirred. ' I was a wife but the other day, Now I am left without hope or stay ! ' Work did I ask ? What work is for you? What work can those delicate fingers do? ' Service? But how could I bear to part From the child with whom I had left my heart ? ' Alms ? Yes, at first ; then a pitiless No: The State would provide me whithei to go. ' But in sordid prisons it laid my head With the thief and the harlot ; therefore I fled. ' One thing alone had I left untried, Then I put off the last rag of pride.' ' What came? ' You were of an honoured race, Now you must live with your own disgrace.' 'But many will buy where few will give, And I die every day that my child may live.' Motherly love sunk to this ! Ah, well, Teach they not how He went down into hell: Only blind me in heart and brain, Or ever I look on the like again.
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