At Midnight

THEY were two poor young girls, little older than children,
Who passed through the midnight streets of the city
Singing.

Poorly clad, morning-eyed, with a strange look of shyness,
Linked arms, and round cheeks, and smooth heads bent together,
Singing.

Singing, great Heaven ! with their fresh childish voices,
Some low-murmured ditty, half hymntune, half love-song,
Singing.

Always by hushed square, and long street deserted,
As from school by the old village streot on fair evenings,
Singing,

Singing, and knowing it not, the old burden
That is born out of secular wrongs and oppressions,
Singing,

Of selfish riches, of misery and hunger,
Of sin that is bred of the wants of the wretched,
Singing,

Of poor bribes that purchase souls, of the endless,
Perpetual harvest of pain and of evil,
Singing,

So, they passed to the flaring sinbefouled places,
And amid the thick throng of the fallen I lost them,
Singing,

A hymn-tune, a love-song, a prayer chanted backward,
A witch spell unholy, a sweet suffrage saintly
Singing.

by Sir Lewis Morris

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