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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.


By Julia Ward Howe (1819–1910)

PAINS the sharp sentence the breast in whose wrath it was uttered,

Now thou art cold;

Vengeance the headlong, and justice with purpose close muttered,

Loosen their hold.

Death brings atonement; he did that whereof ye accuse him,—

Murder accurst;

But, from the crisis of crime in which Satan did lose him,

Suffered the worst,

Harshly the red dawn arose on a deed of his doing,

Never to mend;

But harsher days he wore out in the bitter pursuing

And the wild end.

To lift the pale flag of truce, wrap those mysteries round him,

In whose avail

Madness that moved, and the swift retribution that found him,

Falter and fail.

So the soft purples that quiet the heavens with mourning,

Willing to fall,

Lend him one fold, his illustrious victim adorning

With wider pall.

Back to the cross, where the Savior, uplifted in dying,

Bade all souls live,

Turns the reft bosom of Nature, his mother, low sighing,

“Greatest, forgive!”