The Damned

My days are haunted by the thought
Of men in coils of Justice caught
With stone and steel, in chain and cell,
Of men condemned to living hell,--
Yet blame them not.

In my sun-joy their dark I see:
For what they are and had to be
Blame Nature, red in tooth and claw,
Blame laws beyond all human law,
--Blame Destiny.

Behind blind walls I see them go,
Grim spectres of eternal woe,
Drained grey of hope, dead souls of self-slain,--
And yet I know with pang of pain
It must be so.

I know that brother's blood they've spilt,
And sons of Cain must pay their guilt;
I know the deviltries that stem
From dark abyss we must condemn;
I know that but for heaven's grace
We might be rotting in their place:
--God pity them!

by Robert William Service

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