Harper, Frances."The Contrast."  The Online Archive of Nineteenth-Century Women's Writings. Ed. Glynis Carr. Online. Internet. Posted: Winter 2000. http://www.facstaff.bucknell.edu/gcarr/19cUSWW/FH/TC.html

The Contrast.

They scorned her for her sinning,
Spoke harshly of her fall,
Nor lent the hand of mercy
To break her hated thrall.

The dews of meek repentance
Stood in her downcast eye:
Would no one heed her anguish?
All pass her coldly by?

From the cold, averted glances
Of each reproachful eye,
She turned aside, heart-broken,
And laid her down to die.

And where was he, who sullied
Her once unspotted name;
Who lured her from life's brightness
To agony and shame?

Who left her on life's billows,
A wrecked and ruined thing;
Who brought the winter of despair
Upon Hope's blooming spring?

Through the halls of wealth and fashion,
In gaiety and pride,
He was leading to the altar
A fair and lovely bride!

None scorned him for his sinning,
Few saw it through his gold;
His crimes were only foibles,
And these were gently told.

*       *       *       *       *       *

Before him rose a vision,
A maid of beauty rare;
Then a pale, heart-broken woman,
The image of despair.

Next came a sad procession,
With many a sob and tear;
A widow'd, childless mother
Totter'd by an humble bier.

The vision quickly faded,
The sad, unwelcome sight;
But his lip forgot its laughter,
And his eye its careless light.

A moment, and the flood-gates
Of memory opened wide;
And remorseful recollection
Flowed like a lava tide.

That widow's wail of anguish
Seemed strangely blending there,
And mid the soft lights floated
That image of despair.
*       *       *       *        *       *
 
 
By Frances E. W. Harper
From Poems On Miscellaneous Subjects  (1854; 1857)
 

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