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

The Bridge of Sighs

By Thomas Hood (1799–1845)

“Drowned! drowned!”—HAMLET

ONE more unfortunate,

Weary of breath,

Rashly importunate,

Gone to her death!

Take her up tenderly,

Lift her with care:

Fashioned so slenderly,

Young, and so fair!

Look at her garments

Clinging like cerements;

Whilst the wave constantly

Drips from her clothing:

Take her up instantly,

Loving, not loathing.

Touch her not scornfully;

Think of her mournfully,

Gently and humanly:

Not of the stains of her;

All that remains of her

Now, is pure womanly.

Make no deep scrutiny

Into her mutiny,

Rash and undutiful:

Past all dishonor,

Death has left on her

Only the beautiful.

Still, for all slips of hers,

One of Eve’s family—

Wipe those poor lips of hers,

Oozing so clammily.

Loop up her tresses

Escaped from the comb,—

Her fair auburn tresses;

Whilst wonderment guesses,

Where was her home?

Who was her father?

Who was her mother?

Had she a sister?

Had she a brother?

Or was there a dearer one

Still, and a nearer one

Yet, than all other?

Alas for the rarity

Of Christian charity

Under the sun!

Oh, it was pitiful!

Near a whole city full,

Home she had none!

Sisterly, brotherly,

Fatherly, motherly

Feelings had changed;

Love, by harsh evidence,

Thrown from its eminence;

Even God’s providence

Seeming estranged.

Where the lamps quiver

So far in the river,

With many a light

From window and casement,

From garret to basement,

She stood, with amazement,

Houseless by night.

The bleak wind of March

Made her tremble and shiver;

But not the dark arch,

Or the black-flowing river:

Mad from life’s history,

Glad to death’s mystery

Swift to be hurled—

Anywhere, anywhere,

Out of the world!

In she plunged boldly.

No matter how coldly

The rough river ran—

Over the brink of it:

Picture it, think of it,

Dissolute Man!

Lave in it, drink of it,

Then, if you can!

Take her up tenderly,

Lift her with care:

Fashioned so slenderly,

Young, and so fair!

Ere her limbs frigidly

Stiffen too rigidly,—

Decently, kindly,

Smooth and compose them;

And her eyes, close them,

Staring so blindly!

Dreadfully staring

Through muddy impurity,

As when with the daring

Last look of despairing

Fixed on futurity.

Perishing gloomily,

Spurred by contumely,

Cold inhumanity,

Burning insanity,

Into her rest—

Cross her hands humbly,

As if praying dumbly,

Over her breast!

Owning her weakness,

Her evil behavior,

And leaving, with meekness,

Her sins to her Savior!