The Punished

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Not they who know the awful gibbet's anguish,
   Not they who, while sad years go by them, in
The sunless cells of lonely prisons languish,
   Do suffer fullest penalty for sin.

'Tis they who walk the highways unsuspected,
   Yet with grim fear for ever at their side,
Who hug the corpse of some sin undetected,
   A corpse no grave or coffin-lid can hide -

'Tis they who are in their own chambers haunted
   By thoughts that like unbidden guests intrude,
And sit down, uninvited and unwanted,
   And make a nightmare of the solitude.

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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