On seeing "The House of Julia" at Herculaneum

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by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

   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.


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