by: Thomas Hood (1799-1845)

      NE more unfortunate,
      Weary of breath,
      Rashly importunate,
      Gone to her death!
      Take her up tenderly
      Lift her with care;
      Fashion'd so slenderly,
      Young, and so fair!
      Look at her garments
      Clinging like cerements;
      Whilst the wave constantly
      Drips from her clothing;
      Take her up instantly,
      Loving, not loathing.
      Touch her not scornfully;
      Think of her mournfully,
      Gently and humanly;
      Not of the stains of her,
      All that remains of her
      Now is pure womanly.
      Make no deep scrutiny
      Into her mutiny
      Rash and undutiful:
      Past all dishonor,
      Death has left on her
      Only the beautiful.
      Still, for all slips of hers,
      One of Eve's family--
      Wipe those poor lips of hers
      Oozing so clammily.
      Loop up her tresses
      Escaped from the comb,
      Her fair auburn tresses;
      Whilst wonderment guesses
      Where was her home?
      Who was her father?
      Who was her mother?
      Had she a sister?
      Had she a brother?
      Or was there a dearer one
      Still, and a nearer one
      Yet, than all other?
      Alas! for the rarity
      Of Christian charity
      Under the sun!
      O, it was pitiful!
      Near a whole city full,
      Home she had none.
      Sisterly, brotherly,
      Fatherly, motherly
      Feelings had changed:
      Love, by harsh evidence,
      Thrown from its eminence;
      Even God's providence
      Seeming estranged.
      Where the lamps quiver
      So far in the river,
      With many a light
      From window and casement,
      From garret to basement,
      She stood, with amazement,
      Houseless by night.
      The bleak wind of March
      Made her tremble and shiver;
      But not the dark arch,
      Or the black flowing river:
      Mad from life's history,
      Glad to death's mystery,
      Swift to be hurl'd--
      Anywhere, anywhere
      Out of the world!
      Is she plunged boldly--
      No matter how coldly
      The rough river ran--
      Over the brink of it,
      Picture it--think of it,
      Dissolute Man!
      Lave in it, drink of it,
      Then, if you can!
      Take her up tenderly,
      Lift her with care;
      Fashion'd so slenderly,
      Young, and so fair!
      Ere her limbs frigidly
      Stiffen too rigidly,
      Decently, kindly,
      Smooth and compose them;
      And her eyes, close them,
      Staring so blindly!
      Dreadfully staring
      Thro' muddy impurity,
      As when with the daring
      Last look of despairing
      Fix'd on futurity.
      Perishing gloomily,
      Spurr'd by contumely,
      Cold inhumanity,
      Burning insanity,
      Into her rest.--
      Cross her hand humbly
      As if praying dumbly,
      Over her breast!
      Owning her weakness,
      Her evil behavior,
      And leaving, with meekness,
      Her sins to the Savior!

"The Bridge of Sighs" is reprinted from The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900. Ed. Arthur Quiller-Couch. Oxford: Clarendon, 1919.




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