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The James Thomson Poetry Works

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Virtue and Vice


SHE was so good, and he was so bad
A very pretty time they had!
A pretty time, and it lasted long:
Which of the two was more in the wrong?
He befouled in the slough of sin;
Or she whose piety pushed him in?
He found her yet more cold and staid
As wedded wife than courted maid:
She filled their home with freezing gloom;
He felt it dismal as a tomb:
Her steadfast mind disdained his toys
Of worldly pleasures, carnal joys;
Her heart firm-set on things above
Was frigid to his earthly love.

So he came staggering home at night;
Where she sat chilling, chaste, and white:
She smiled a scornful virtuous smile,
He flung good books with curses vile.
Fresh with the early morn she rose,
While he yet lay in a feverish doze:
She prayed for blessings from the Throne,
He called for “a hair of the dog” with a groan:
She blessed God for her strength to bear
The heavy load,—he ’gan to swear:
She sighed, would Heaven, ere yet too late,
Bring him to see his awful state!
The charity thus sweetly pressed
Made him rage like one possessed.

So she grew holier day by day,
While he grew all the other way.
She left him: she had done her part
To wean from sin his sinful heart,
But all in vain; her presence might
Make him a murderer some mad night.
Her family took her back, pure saint,
Serene in soul, above complaint:
The narrow path she strictly trod,
And went in triumph home to God:
While he into the Union fell,
Our halfway house on the road to Hell.
With which would you rather pass your life
The wicked husband or saintly wife?


The James Thomson Poetry Works
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