Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE NEWS, by CHARLES SPRAGUE

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THE NEWS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The news! Our morning, noon, and evening cry
Last Line: Insulted virtue's hiss -- thou canst not fly.

THE news! our morning, noon, and evening cry,
Day unto day repeats it till we die.
For this the cit, the critic, and the fop,
Dally the hour away in Tonsor's shop;
For this the gossip takes her daily route,
And wears your threshold and your patience out;
For this we leave the parson in the lurch,
And pause to prattle on the way to church;
Even when some coffined friend we gather round,
We ask, "What news?" then lay him in the ground;
To this the breakfast owes its sweetest zest,
For this the dinner cools, the bed remains unpressed.
What gives each tale of scandal to the street,
The kitchen's wonder, and the parlor's treat?
See the pert housemaid to the keyhole fly,
When husband storms, wife frets, or lovers sigh;
See Tom ransack your pockets for each note,
And read your secrets while he cleans your coat;
See, yes, to listen see even madam deign,
When the smug seamstress pours her ready strain;
This wings the lie that malice breeds in fear, --
No tongue so vile but finds a kindred ear;
Swift flies each tale of laughter, shame, or folly,
Caught by Paul Pry and carried home to Polly;
On this each foul calumniator leans,
And nods and hints the villany he means:
Full well he knows what latent wildfire lies
In the close whisper and the dark surmise;
A muffled word, a wordless wink has woke
A warmer throb than if a Dexter spoke;
And he, o'er Everett's periods who would nod,
To track a secret, half the town has trod.
O thou, from whose rank breath nor sex can save,
Nor sacred virtue, nor the powerless grave, --
Felon unwhipped! than whom in yonder cells
Full many a groaning wretch less guilty dwells,
Blush -- if of honest blood a drop remains
To steal its lonely way along thy veins,
Blush -- if the bronze, long hardened on thy cheek,
Has left a spot where that poor drop can speak;
Blush to be branded with the slanderer's name,
And, though thou dreadst not sin, at least dread shame.
We hear, indeed, but shudder while we hear
The insidious falsehood and the heartless jeer;
For each dark libel that thou lickest to shape,
Thou mayest from law but not from scorn escape;
The pointed finger, cold, averted eye,
Insulted virtue's hiss -- thou canst not fly.

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