Page:The torrent and The night before.djvu/51

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—41—

And I, like a struck dog, crept and listened.
And then when I met the man who had weakened
A woman's love to his own desire,
It seemed to me that all hell were laughing
In fiendish concert!—I was their victim—
And his, and hate's. And there was the struggle!—
As long as the earth we tread holds something
A tortured heart can love, the meaning
Of life is not wholly blurred; but after
The last loved thing in the world has left us,
We know the triumph of hate. The glory
Of good goes out forever; the beacon
Of sin is the light that leads us downward—
Down to the fiery end. The road runs
Right through hell; and the souls that follow
The cursed ways where its windings lead them
Suffer enough, I say, to merit
All grace that a God can give.—The fashion
Of our belief is to lift all beings
Born for a life that knows no struggle
In sin's tight snares to eternal glory—
All apart from the branded millions
Who carry through life their faces graven
With sure brute scars that tell the story
Of their foul, fated passions.—Science
Has yet no salve to smooth or soften
The cradle-scars of a tyrant's visage;—
No drug to purge, from the vital essence
Of souls the sleeping venom. Virtue
May flower in hell, when its roots are twisted
And wound with the roots of vice; but the stronger
Never is known till there comes that battle
With sin to prove the victor. Perilous
Things are these demons we call our passions—
Slaves are we of their roving fancies,
Fools of their devilish glee.—You think me,
I know, in this maundering way designing
To lighten the load of my guilt and cast it
Half on the shoulders of God . . . But hear me!—