Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
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SONNETS

UPON THE PUNISHMENT OF DEATH

IN SERIES, 1839

II

          TENDERLY do we feel by Nature's law
          For worst offenders: though the heart will heave
          With indignation, deeply moved we grieve,
          In after thought, for Him who stood in awe
          Neither of God nor man, and only saw,
          Lost wretch, a horrible device enthroned
          On proud temptations, till the victim groaned
          Under the steel his hand had dared to draw.
          But oh, restrain compassion, if its course,
          As oft befalls, prevent or turn aside                       10
          Judgments and aims and acts whose higher source
          Is sympathy with the unforewarned, who died
          Blameless--with them that shuddered o'er his grave,
          And all who from the law firm safety crave.


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