Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PARDON, by JULIA WARD HOWE

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PARDON, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Pains the sharp sentence
Last Line: Greatest, forgive!
Subject(s): American Civil War; Assassination; Booth, John Wilkes (1838-1865); Lincoln, Abraham (1809-1865); Presidents, United States; United States - History

( WILKES BOOTH -- APRIL 26, 1'65)

PAINS the sharp sentence the heart in whose wrath it was uttered,
Now thou art cold;
Vengeance, the headlong, and Justice, with purpose close muttered,
Loosen their hold.

Death brings atonement; he did that whereof ye accuse him, --
Murder accurst;
But from that crisis of crime in which Satan did lose him,
Suffered the worst.

Harshly the red dawn arose on a deed of his doing,
Never to mend;
But harsher days he wore out in the bitter pursuing
And the wild end.

So lift the pale flag of truce, wrap those mysteries round him,
In whose avail
Madness that moved, and the swift retribution that found him,
Falter and fail.

So the soft purples that quiet the heavens with mourning,
Willing to fall,
Lend him one fold, his illustrious victim adorning
With wider pall.

Back to the cross, where the Saviour uplifted in dying
Bade all souls live,
Turns the reft bosom of Nature, his mother, low sighing,
Greatest, forgive!

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