By the City Dead-House, by the gate,
As idly sauntering, wending my way from the clangour,
I curious pause--for lo! an outcast form, a poor dead prostitute brought;
Her corpse they deposit unclaimed, it lies on the damp brick pavement.
The divine woman, her body--I see the body--I look on it alone,
That house once full of passion and beauty--all else I notice not;
Nor stillness so cold, nor running water from faucet, nor odours morbific
But the house alone--that wondrous house--that delicate fair house--that
That immortal house, more than all the rows of dwellings ever built,
Or white-domed Capitol itself, with majestic figure surmounted--or all the
old high-spired cathedrals,
That little house alone, more than them all--poor, desperate house!
Fair, fearful wreck! tenement of a Soul! itself a Soul!
Unclaimed, avoided house! take one breath from my tremulous lips;
Take one tear, dropped aside as I go, for thought of you,
Dead house of love! house of madness and sin, crumbled! crushed!
House of life--erewhile talking and laughing--but ah, poor house! dead even
Months, years, an echoing, garnished house-but dead, dead, dead!