Unknown Romances

I.

Oft have I wandered when the first faint light
Of morning shone upon the steeple vanes
Of sleeping London, through the silent night,
Musing on memories of joys and pains; —
And looking down long vistas of dim lanes
And shadowy streets, one after other spread
In endless coil, have thought what hopes now dead
Once bloomed in every house, what tearful rains
Women have wept for husband, sire, or son,
What love and sorrow ran their course in each,
And what great silent tragedies were done; —
And wished the dumb and secret walls had speech,
That they might whisper to me, one by one,
The sad true lessons that their walls might teach.

II.

Close and forgetful witnesses, they hide,
In nuptial chamber, attic, or saloon,
Many a legend sad of desolate bride
And mournful mother, blighted all too soon;
Of strong men's agony, despair, and pride,
And mental glory darkened ere its noon.
But let the legends perish in their place,
For well I know where'er these walls have seen
Humanity's upturned and heavenly face,
That there has virtue, there has courage been —
That ev'n 'mid passions foul, and vices base,
Some ray of goodness interposed between.
Ye voiceless houses, ever as I gaze,
This moral flashes from your walls serene.
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