By the city dead-house by the gate,
As idly sauntering wending my way from the clangor,
I curious pause, for lo, an outcast form, a poor dead prostitute brought,
Her corpse they deposit unclaim'd, 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 odors
morbific impress me,
But the house alone--that wondrous house--that delicate fair house
That immortal house more than all the rows of dwellings ever built!
Or white-domed capitol 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,
Unclaim'd, avoided house--take one breath from my tremulous lips,
Take one tear dropt aside as I go for thought of you,
Dead house of love--house of madness and sin, crumbled, crush'd,
House of life, erewhile talking and laughing--but ah, poor house,
dead even then,
Months, years, an echoing, garnish'd house--but dead, dead, dead.
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