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A Fragment

THEY say that poison-sprinkled flowers

Are sweeter in perfume

Than when, untouched by deadly dew,

They glowed in early bloom.

 

They say that men condemned to die

Have quaffed the sweetened wine

With higher relish than the juice

Of the untampered vine.

 

They say that in the witch's song,

Though rude and harsh it be,

There blends a wild, mysterious strain

Of weirdest melody.

 

And I believe the devil's voice

Sinks deeper in our ear

Than any whisper sent from Heaven,

However sweet and clear.

 

Published in 'Sea Spray and Smoke Drift' (1867).