Adown the torturing mile of street
I mark him come and go,
Thread in and out with tireless feet
The crossings to and fro;
A soul that treads without retreat
A labyrinth of woe.
Palsied with awe of such despair,
All living things give room,
They flit before his sightless glare
As horrid shapes, that loom
And shriek the curse that bids him bear
The symbol of his doom.
The very stones are coals that bake
And scorch his fevered skin;
A fire no hissing hail may slake
Consumes his heart within.
Still must he hasten on to rake
The furnace of his sin.
Still forward! forward! For he feels
Fierce claws that pluck his breast,
And blindly beckon as he reels
Upon his awful quest:
For there is that behind his heels
Knows neither ruth nor rest.
The fiends in hell have flung the dice;
The destinies depend
On feet that run for fearful price,
And fangs that gape to rend;
And still the footsteps of his Vice
Pursue him to the end:–
The feet of his incarnate Vice
Shall dog him to the end.