BEAUTY and youth once painted thee the fairest of the fair,
The soft smile danc’d across thy lip, and banish’d carking care;
The fire that from thine eye burst forth, and fix’d our raptur’d gaze,
Burns now alas! a sickly flame—a blue and wan-like blaze.
Thy bounding step—thy graceful form, no more the eye delight;
Thy maiden’s blush has pass’d away in terror and affright;
And all that once was beautiful, and seem’d to spurn decay,
Has left the form it proudly own’d, and scornful flown away.
The red spot on thy care-worn cheek tells loud of the despair,
Which burns and blasts within thy breast, and reigns triumphant there.
Scorn mocks the tale thou fain would’st tell, and points to thy dark doom,
Where silent thou may’st ever lie the tenant of the tomb.
Who shall presume to sneer at thee, or taunt thee with thy fall;
Repeat the lessons of thy youth, and each pass’d joy recal?
Thy crime of ardent love, fond girl, the angels scarce could blame,
For sin engender’d in pure love, is love, though sin’s its name.
How happy had thy days flown by had’st thou been taught to hate
Those kindred feelings in our breasts that sin and shame create;
Then had’st thou mov’d in angel shape all spotless and all pure,
And ‘scap’d the poison of that spell which charms but to allure.
The form had still its gracefulness; thine eye its kindling fire;
Thy bounding step a witchery e’en envy must admire;
But thou wast told to love thy kind, to warm in thy fair breast
A monster cloth’d in God-like shape, that stung as he caress’d.
Yes! soon beneath the fatal arts of man’s perverted power,
Thou hung’st thy head that bloom’d but late, so fair, so sweet a flower;
It droops all wither’d on its stem—it bends its stalk in shame,
Nor ever can it bud again, or boast its once pure name.
The prudish world will have its way—will blast with its foul breath
Thy worldly fame—thy worldly hopes—and hunt thee to the death.
More pure thou art by far than they who now with horror rave,
And, by a shew, conceal the sins they carry to the grave.
A mind, like thine, has that within will punish its own fall;—
A consciousness of wrong that steeps our fondest hopes in gall:—
A canker eating to the core of our once spotless heart,
Yet purging the foul spot away ere soul and body part.
With thy sad crime, in the cold grave, thou may’st for ever dwell,
While Virtue e’en may weep for thee, and sadly sigh farewell.
Let no stone mark thy grassy mound, or decorate the sod,
But sleep that one dark stain away—then trust thy soul with God.
© Samuel Prout Hill