Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
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SONNETS

UPON THE PUNISHMENT OF DEATH

IN SERIES, 1839

VI

          YE brood of conscience--Spectres! that frequent
          The bad Man's restless walk, and haunt his bed--
          Fiends in your aspect, yet beneficent
          In act, as hovering Angels when they spread
          Their wings to guard the unconscious Innocent--
          Slow be the Statutes of the land to share
          A laxity that could not but impair
          'Your' power to punish crime, and so prevent.
          And ye, Beliefs! coiled serpent-like about
          The adage on all tongues, "Murder will out,"                10
          How shall your ancient warnings work for good
          In the full might they hitherto have shown,
          If for deliberate shedder of man's blood
          Survive not Judgment that requires his own?


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