Unseen Spirits

Nathaniel Parker Willis

THE SHADOWS lay along Broadway,
    ’T was near the twilight-tide,
And slowly there a lady fair
    Was walking in her pride.
Alone walked she; but, viewlessly,
    Walked spirits at her side.

Peace charmed the street beneath her feet,
    And Honor charmed the air;
And all astir looked kind on her,
    And called her good as fair,
For all God ever gave to her
    She kept with chary care.

She kept with care her beauties rare
    From lovers warm and true,
For her heart was cold to all but gold,
    And the rich came not to woo—
But honored well are charms to sell
    If priests the selling do.

Now walking there was one more fair—
    A slight girl, lily-pale;
And she had unseen company
    To make the spirit quail:
’Twixt Want and Scorn she walked forlorn,
    And nothing could avail.

No mercy now can clear her brow
    For this world’s peace to pray;
For, as love’s wild prayer dissolved in air,
    Her woman’s heart gave way!—
But the sin forgiven by Christ in heaven
    By man is cursed alway!

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