Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
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SONNETS

UPON THE PUNISHMENT OF DEATH

IN SERIES, 1839

VIII

          FIT retribution, by the moral code
          Determined, lies beyond the State's embrace,
          Yet, as she may, for each peculiar case
          She plants well-measured terrors in the road
          Of wrongful acts. Downward it is and broad,
          And, the main fear once doomed to banishment,
          Far oftener then, bad ushering worse event,
          Blood would be spilt that in his dark abode
          Crime might lie better hid. And, should the change
          Take from the horror due to a foul deed,                    10
          Pursuit and evidence so far must fail,
          And, guilt escaping, passion then might plead
          In angry spirits for her old free range,
          And the "wild justice of revenge" prevail.


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