Of a Vesey Street Curb Preacher

Cheerful the evangelist scrawls
His texts on pavements and on walls,
Imploring others to repent
Lest their imperilled souls be shent.

And, burdened with my virtue, I
Salute him as I ramble by;
Nor marvel he is so elated
From Hell to be emancipated.

But I, between the daily hames
Or cindered with my private flames
Pause and benignantly astonish
To hear the simpleton admonish.

For what, indeed, shall I retract?
I, dull and decent in each act!
I, the scorched asbestos clod,
Rebuke to pyrotechnic God!

I, funambulous o'er the pit
Where all the fires of Self are lit—
I, Leda bashful of the Swan,
Beachcomber of the Rubicon!

Before I utter palinode
Let planets curve a different road:
Unmandible the angry ant
And bid biology recant!

Be wary how you reprobate
Virtue already overweight.
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