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Poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Progress of Vice

Nemo repente turpissimus

Deep in the gulph of Vice and Woe
Leaps Man at once with headlong throw?
Him inborn Truth and Virtue guide,
Whose guards are Shame and conscious Pride.
In some gay hour Vice steals into the breast;
Perchance she wears some softer Virtues vest.
By unperceivd degrees she tempts to stray,
Till far from Virtues path she leads the feet away.

Then swift the soul to disenthrall
Will Memory the past recall,
And Fear before the Victims eyes
Bid future ills and dangers rise.
But hark! the Voice, the Lyre, their charms combine 
Gay sparkles in the cup the generous Wine 
Th inebriate dance, the fair frail Nymph inspires,
And Virtue vanquishd  scornd  with hasty flight retires.

But soon to tempt the Pleasures cease;
Yet Shame forbids return to peace.
And stern Necessity will force
Still to urge on the desperate course.

The drear black paths of Vice the wretch must try,
Where Conscience flashes horror on each eye,
Where Hate  where Murder scowl  where starts Affright!
Ah! close the scene  ah! close  for dreadful is the sight.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Samuel Taylor Coleridge's other poems:
  1. Lines
  2. The Pang More Sharp Than All
  3. To an Infant
  4. Lines Written after a Walk before Supper
  5. Cologne

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