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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

Middle States: New York, the City, N. Y.

Unseen Spirits

By Nathaniel Parker Willis (1806–1867)

THE SHADOWS lay along Broadway,—

’T was near the twilight tide,—

And slowly there a lady fair

Was walking in her pride.

Alone walked she; but, viewlessly,

Walked spirits at her side.

Peace charmed the street beneath her feet,

And Honor charmed the air,

And all astir looked kind on her,

And called her good as fair;

For all God ever gave to her

She kept with chary care.

She kept with care her beauties rare

From lovers warm and true;

For her heart was cold to all but gold,

And the rich came not to woo:

But honored well are charms to sell,

If priests the selling do.

Now walking there was one more fair,—

A slight girl, lily-pale;

And she had unseen company

To make the spirit quail:

’Twixt Want and Scorn she walked forlorn,

And nothing could avail.

No mercy now can clear her brow

For this world’s peace to pray;

For, as love’s wild prayer dissolved in air,

Her woman’s heart gave way!

But the sin forgiven by Christ in heaven,

By man is cursed alway.