Home  »  A Library of American Literature  »  A Magdalen of the Dresden Gallery

Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

A Magdalen of the Dresden Gallery

By Augustus Rodney Macdonough (1820–1907)

[Born in Middletown, Conn., 1820. Died, 1907.]


NOT she, whose fruitless tears avow a youth

Less yielded to warm love than basely sold;

Angry with shame, who clutches still her gold,

Drooped in satiety, not bowed with ruth—

Nor she who mars with penances uncouth

Her fatal beauty, which no eyes behold

Save a skull’s hollow orbs, yet overbold

Deems heaven’s grace a debt to grief, forsooth—

Nor that dust-kissing face, whence sorrow’s tooth

Has gnawed all passion, leaving it as cold

As her own emptied vase: whose hands enfold

The Book from which remorse has taught her truth—

Though still so fair in ruin she might win

The world to doubt if sentence waits on sin.


A LONE, not lingering to adore or mourn,

First seen, first sent, from that transfigured grave,

With “go in peace”—to seek no desert cave,

But loving, erring lives to lift and warn.

With prophet-tears for sisters yet unborn,

She, first forgiven, only blessed, shall crave

Their heritage in all her dear Lord gave,

Grace for crushed hearts, killed by the harsh world’s scorn—

Or, rapt in vision, lifting eyes above

Softened through sorrow to ecstatic love,

Shall hail the promise of the golden years

When balm shall be distilled from bitterest tears,

God’s law rule man’s, and all who, following her,

Love, to be lost, not unredeemed shall err.