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 And my heart murmured, “Is it meet
That blindfold Nature thus should treat
With equal hand the tares and wheat?”
A presence melted through my mood,—
A warmth, a light, a sense of good,
Like sunshine through a winter wood.
I saw that presence, mailed complete
In her white innocence, pause to greet
A fallen sister of the street.
Upon her bosom snowy pure
The lost one clung, as if secure
From inward guilt or outward lure.
‘Beware!’ I said; “in this I see
No gain to her, but loss to thee:
Who touches pitch defiled must be.”
I passed the haunts of shame and sin,
And a voice whispered, “Who therein
Shall these lost souls to Heaven's peace win
“Who there shall hope and health dispense,
And lift the ladder up from thence
Whose rounds are prayers of penitence?”
I said, “No higher life they know;
These earth-worms love to have it so.
Who stoops to raise them sinks as low.”
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