ON SEEING 'THE HOUSE OF JULIA' AT HERCULANEUM

Not great Vesuvius, in all his ire,
    Nor all the centuries, could hide your shame.
    There is the little window where you came,
With eyes that woke the demon of desire,
And lips like rose leaves, fashioned out of fire;
    And from the lava leaps the molten flame
    Of your old sins. The walls cry out your name--
Your face seems rising from the funeral pyre.

There must have dwelt, within your fated town,
    Full many a virtuous dame, and noble wife
       Who made your beauty seem as star to sun;
How strange the centuries have handed down
    Your name, fair Julia, of immoral life,
       And left the others to oblivion.

Poems of Progress and New Thought Pastels by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
London: Gay & Hancock, 1911.


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