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BALLADE OF THE PENITENTS.


By Andrew Lang.

"Le repentir de leur premier choix les rend des Pénitens du Diable, comme dit Tertullien."—Pascal, "Pensées," 1672, p. 178.

"Oh, who be ye that doubtful tread
And listless through the glad array?
"With languid look, with drooping head,
In all this rout of ladies gay?
Ye walk with them, but not as they,
Ye tarry sadly in their tents,
"Why fare ye thus half-hearted, say?"—
"We are St. Satan's Penitents!

"A straiter path we once would tread,
Through wilds that knew not of the May,
The loads that weighed on us like lead,
"We bore through thorns and sloughs of clay.
No time had we to pause or play
With music of glad instruments,
But still we clambered: Well-a-day!
We are St. Satan's Penitents.

"'The path is over steep,' we said,
'The rueful skies are ashen gray,
And over harshly are we sped,
Still upward! Ne'er a stop nor stay!'
We cast our burdens all away,
We fled adown the steep ascents,
We were aweary of that way;
We are St. Satan's Penitents."

Envoy.

Fair is the path, and bright the day,
Where now we whisper our laments ;
With backward glance we go astray,
We are St. Satan's Penitents.