The Prisoner

Since I walked careless in the noisy street,
With common words for any I might meet,
And did the petty duties each day brought,
And grievous troubles from small sources wrought,
Ah, me! it seems a weary while ago.

'Tis dreary desolation here to wait
The dreadful hour when I shall meet my fate!
Whilst others all the sweet of living share,
Nor of the hapless captive think or care.
Yet once it bore as little on my mind,
When other men in other prisons pined.
I too in heedless, over-hasty blame,
Forgot the human heart beat on the same;
Forgot the subtle agony which wrings
A wounded soul, remembering common things
As when the sunlight on this prison floor
Recalls some scene that I shall see no more!

Perchance some gentle hearts may grant my pain
The justice they would hope themselves to gain;
Nor blindly every accusation trust,
When he, who only can refute, is dust.
And in the end, most lives appeal above;
Some cry for 'Rest,' and others wait for 'Love:'
For 'Justice' to the one just Judge I call!—
And Heaven provides a recompense for all.

Yet still, 'tis very hard to die like this!
No household hearth my presence there to miss;
Nothing to leave, except this dismal cell,
No loving lip to press a last farewell!
But through the tumult of a rabble rout,
Mid grave hard faces, full of stinging doubt,
Forlornly lone, this hunted soul must go,
And bear to heaven few memories but woe!

And yet I could not join the world again;
My heart has withered in this bitter pain.
Wounded by finding mortal Justice blind,
I've almost lost my faith in human kind.
'Tis best to bow beneath man's erring rod,
And ask no more for justice—save from God!

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