1 O sight of shame, and pain, and dole! O fearful thoughtâ€”a convict Soul! RANG the refrain along the hall, the prison, Rose to the roof, the vaults of heaven above, Pouring in floods of melody, in tones so pensive, sweet and strong, the like whereof was never heard, Reaching the far-off sentry, and the armed guards, who ceasâ€™d their pacing, Making the hearerâ€™s pulses stop for extasy and awe. 2 O sight of pity, gloom, and dole! O pardon me, a hapless Soul! The sun was low in the west one winter day, When down a narrow aisle, amid the thieves and outlaws of the land, (There by the hundreds seated, sear-faced murderers, wily counterfeiters, Gatherâ€™d to Sunday church in prison wallsâ€”the keepers round, Plenteous, well-armâ€™d, watching, with vigilant eyes,) All that dark, cankerous blotch, a nationâ€™s criminal mass, Calmly a Lady walkâ€™d, holding a little innocent child by either hand, Whom, seating on their stools beside her on the platform, She, first preluding with the instrument, a low and musical prelude, In voice surpassing all, sang forth a quaint old hymn. 3THE HYMN.A Soul, confined by bars and bands, Cries, Help! O help! and wrings her hands; Blinded her eyesâ€”bleeding her breast, Nor pardon finds, nor balm of rest. O sight of shame, and pain, and dole! O fearful thoughtâ€”a convict Soul! Ceaseless, she paces to and fro; O heart-sick days! O nights of wo! Nor hand of friend, nor loving face; Nor favor comes, nor word of grace. O sight of pity, gloom, and dole! O pardon me, a hapless Soul! It was not I that sinnâ€™d the sin, The ruthless Body draggâ€™d me in; Though long I strove courageously, The Body was too much for me. O Life! no life, but bitter dole! O burning, beaten, baffled Soul! (Dear prisonâ€™d Soul, bear up a space, For soon or late the certain grace; To set thee free, and bear thee home, The Heavenly Pardoner, Death shall come. Convict no moreâ€”nor shame, nor dole! Depart! a God-enfranchisâ€™d Soul!) 4The singer ceasâ€™d; One glance swept from her clear, calm eyes, oâ€™er all those upturnâ€™d faces; Strange sea of prison facesâ€”a thousand varied, crafty, brutal, seamâ€™d and beauteous faces; Then rising, passing back along the narrow aisle between them, While her gown touchâ€™d them, rustling in the silence, She vanishâ€™d with her children in the dusk. 5While upon all, convicts and armed keepers, ere they stirrâ€™d, (Convict forgetting prison, keeper his loaded pistol,) A hush and pause fell down, a wondrous minute, With deep, half-stifled sobs, and sound of bad men bowâ€™d, and moved to weeping, And youthâ€™s convulsive breathings, memories of home, The motherâ€™s voice in lullaby, the sisterâ€™s care, the happy childhood, The long-pent spirit rousâ€™d to reminiscence; â€”A wondrous minute thenâ€”But after, in the solitary night, to many, many there, Years afterâ€”even in the hour of deathâ€”the sad refrainâ€”the tune, the voice, the words, Resumedâ€”the large, calm Lady walks the narrow aisle, The wailing melody againâ€”the singer in the prison sings: O sight of shame, and pain, and dole! O fearful thoughtâ€”a convict Soul!