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Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Сэмюэл Тэйлор Кольридж)

Progress of Vice

Nemo repente turpissimus

Deep in the gulph of Vice and Woe
Leaps Man at once with headlong throw?
Him inborn Truth and Virtue guide,
Whose guards are Shame and conscious Pride.
In some gay hour Vice steals into the breast;
Perchance she wears some softer Virtue’s vest.
By unperceiv’d degrees she tempts to stray,
Till far from Virtue’s path she leads the feet away.

Then swift the soul to disenthrall
Will Memory the past recall,
And Fear before the Victim’s eyes
Bid future ills and dangers rise.
But hark! the Voice, the Lyre, their charms combine —
Gay sparkles in the cup the generous Wine —
Th’ inebriate dance, the fair frail Nymph inspires,
And Virtue vanquish’d — scorn’d — with hasty flight retires.

But soon to tempt the Pleasures cease;
Yet Shame forbids return to peace.
And stern Necessity will force
Still to urge on the desperate course.

The drear black paths of Vice the wretch must try,
Where Conscience flashes horror on each eye,
Where Hate — where Murder scowl — where starts Affright!
Ah! close the scene — ah! close — for dreadful is the sight.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge's other poems:
  1. The Complaint Of Ninathoma
  2. On A Ruined House In A Romantic Country
  3. On The Christening Of A Friend's Child
  4. Monody on a Tea-kettle
  5. Ode To Tranquillity

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