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Page 284
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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 de-
         licate fair house—that ruin!
That immortal house, more than all the rows of dwel-
         lings ever built!
Or white-domed Capitol itself, with magestic figure sur-
         mounted—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, crum-
         bled! 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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