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HOME > Short Stories > The Ballad of Reading Gaol > CHAPTER I.
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      He did not wear his coat,
                 For blood and wine are red,
               And blood and wine were on his hands
                 When they found him with the dead,
               The poor dead woman whom he loved,
                 And murdered in her bed.
               He walked amongst the Trial Men
                 In a suit of shabby grey;
               A cricket cap was on his head,
                 And his step seemed light and gay;
               But I never saw a man who looked
                 So wistfully at the day.
               I never saw a man who looked
                 With such a wistful eye
               Upon that little tent of blue
                 Which prisoners call the sky,
               And at every drifting cloud that went
                 With sails of silver by.
               I walked, with other souls in pain,
                 Within another ring,
               And was wondering if the man had done
                 A great or little thing,
               When a voice behind me whispered low,
                 "That fellow's got to swing."
               Dear Christ! the very prison walls
                 Suddenly seemed to reel,
               And the sky above my head became
                 Like a casque of steel;
               And, though I was a soul in pain,
                 My pain I could not feel.
               I only knew what hunted thought
                 Quickened his step, and why
               He looked upon the day
                 With such a wistful eye;
               The man had killed the thing he loved
                 And so he had to die.
               Yet each man kills the thing he loves
                 By each let this be heard,
               Some do it with a bitter look,
                 Some with a flattering word,
               The coward does it with a kiss,
                 The brave man with a sword!
               Some kill their love when they are young,
                 And some when they are old;
               Some strangle with the hands of ,
                 Some with the hands of Gold:
               The kindest use a knife, because
                 The dead so soon grow cold.
               Some love too little, some too long,
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