Magdalena.

A poem by Marietta Holley

Who falsely called thee destroyer, still white Angel of Death?
Oh not a destroyer here, but a kind restorer, thou,
For the guilty look is gone, died out with her failing breath,
And the sinless peace of a babe has come to lip and brow.

Drowned in the heaving tide with her life, is her burden of woe,
The dreary weight of sin, the woeful, troublesome years,
The cold pure touch of the water has washed the shame from her brow
Leaving a calm immortal, that looks like the chrism of peace.

I fancy her smile was like this, as she pulled at her mother's gown
Drawing her out with childish fingers to watch the red of the skies
On the old brown doorstep of home, while the peaceful sun went down,
With her mother's hand on her brow, and the glow of the west in her eyes.

"An outcast vile and lost," you say, yes, she went astray,
Astray, when the crimson wine of life ran fresh and wild,
With mother's tender hand no more on her brow, put away
The grasses beneath, and she was alone and almost a child.

Like a kid decoyed to its death, the stealthy panther lures,
Mocking the voice of its dam, thus he led the innocent child
Through her tenderness down to ruin, he is a friend of yours,
And admired by all; as you say, "men will be wild."

But I wonder if God, so far above on His great white throne
The clanging tumult of trouble and doubt that mortals vex;
When the murmur of a crime sweeps up from earth with woeful moan,
If He pauses, ere He condemns, to ask the offender's sex.

And if so, whether the weaker or stronger He blames the most,
The tempter or tempted a tithe of His tender compassion claims,
Whether the selfish or too unselfish, those who through love or lust are lost,
He in His infinite wisdom and mercy most condemns.

Frown not, I know her evil our womanly nature shuns,
Turns from, with shuddering horror; but now so low is her head
For God's sake, woman, remember your own little ones
Lying safely at home in their snow-white sheltered bed.

Your own little girls, for them does the flame of your anger burn,
"Such creatures will draw down innocence into guilt and woe."
I think from eternity vast she will scarcely return
To entice them to sin, you can safely forgive her now.

"You will not countenance wrong, but fiercely war for the right
Even unto the bitter death." Very good, you should do so,
But, my friend, if your own secret thought had blossomed to light
In temptation, you might have been in this outcast's place, you know.

So let us be pitiful, grateful that God's strong hand
Has held our own, and the tale of a woman's despair
And penitent sin, He stooped and wrote in the perishing sand;
We carve the record in stone, weak, sinful souls that we are.

In the arms of the kind all-mother, but close to the sorrowful wave,
With its voice no longer moaning to her a despairing call,
But a dirge deploring and deep; we will make her grave,
With healing grasses above her, and God over all.

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