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An india shawl--of texture wondrous fair,
Wrought in with rich devices quaint and rare,
And coloring deftly gorgeous, such as blooms
Only in solemn Asia handilooms,
Worn but on pageant days of human pride,
And, stately service ended, laid aside--


One day was taken from its choice retreat,
A camphor box inlaid with spice-woods sweet,
When lo! through fold on fold precisely laid,
Each steeped in purest dyes of loveliest shade,
A single moth, with dull, and sullen tooth,
Had cut in silent but relentless ruth.


O lives of costly leisure, through your years
Adorned with graceful culture which endears,
And bless├Ęd opportunities, which would
Delight an angel, for all service good,
Cuts no dull sluggard tooth of selfish ease--
Yourself content because yourselves you please?
The good you might have done and did not do,
Left, like some silent malison, with you
To work its own revenge, to breed the moth,
The unsightly worm of spiritual sloth.


That web of life, of texture wondrous fair,
Enriched with colors, and devices rare,
Which God had fashioned from His boundless will
To such consummate beauty, thwarts his skill:
What should have been a wedding garment wrought
With threads of golden deeds, and generous thought
Of others' weal or wo, kept bright with use,
Clean as baptismal robe from sin's abuse,
Is but a moth-cut tissue, to surprise
In that dread light which visits dying eyes.