Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
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SONNETS

UPON THE PUNISHMENT OF DEATH

IN SERIES, 1839

IX

          THOUGH to give timely warning and deter
          Is one great aim of penalty, extend
          Thy mental vision further and ascend
          Far higher, else full surely shalt thou err.
          What is a State? The wise behold in her
          A creature born of time, that keeps one eye
          Fixed on the statutes of Eternity,
          To which her judgments reverently defer.
          Speaking through Law's dispassionate voice the State
          Endues her conscience with external life                    10
          And being, to preclude or quell the strife
          Of individual will, to elevate
          The grovelling mind, the erring to recall,
          And fortify the moral sense of all.


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