Verse > William Wordsworth > Complete Poetical Works
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SONNETS

UPON THE PUNISHMENT OF DEATH

IN SERIES, 1839

XI

          AH, think how one compelled for life to abide
          Locked in a dungeon needs must eat the heart
          Out of his own humanity, and part
          With every hope that mutual cares provide;
          And, should a less unnatural doom confide
          In life-long exile on a savage coast,
          Soon the relapsing penitent may boast
          Of yet more heinous guilt, with fiercer pride.
          Hence thoughtful Mercy, Mercy sage and pure,
          Sanctions the forfeiture that Law demands,                  10
          Leaving the final issue in 'His' hands
          Whose goodness knows no change, whose love is sure,
          Who sees, foresees; who cannot judge amiss,
          And wafts at will the contrite soul to bliss.


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