Patrick Regan has kindly shared the material from his Robert Buchanan site with readers of the Victorian Web, who may wish to consult the original.

'One more unfortunate weary of breath'
    (Sisters of Midnight, so runneth the ditty),
'Rashly importunate, gone to her death,'
    Lost in the gulf of the desolate City.
Let the flood cover her, while we walk over her,
    Lit by the lamps of the Bridges forlorn —
Sisters of Midnight, pale waifs of Humanity,
Laugh at the world, all the foulness and vanity,
    Hunting your prey from the night till the morn!

Poisonous paint on us, under the gas,
    Smiling like spectres, we gather bereaven;
Leprosy's taint on us, ghost-like we pass,
    Watch'd by the eyes of yon pitiless Heaven!
Let the stars stare at us! God, too, may glare at us
    Out of the Void where He hideth so well . . .
Sisters of midnight, He damn'd us in making us,
Cast us like carrion to men, then forsaking us,
    Smiles from His throne on these markets of Hell!

Laugh! Those who turn from us, too, have their price!
    There, for the proud, other harlots are dressing,
They too may learn from us man's old device —
    Food for his lust, with some sham of a blessing!
Sons of old Adam there buy the fine madam there,
    Bid with a coronet, — yea, or a crown!
Sisters, who'd envy the glory which graces them?
They, too, are sold to the lust which embraces them,
    Ev'n in the Church, with the Christ looking down!

Pure in their scorn of us, happy and fair,
    Let them go by us, contented and smiling —
Foulness that's born of us, they, too, must share,
    Long as they welcome what we are defiling.
They, who might turn to us, comfort us, yearn to us,
    They who still smile on the Man and his sin,
Shut their proud portals of silver and gold on us!
Sisters of Midnight, tho' shame comes tenfold on us,
    It comes twentyfold on those women within!

Leprosy's taint on them falls (let it fall !),
    What we have poisoned, they clasp night and morrow!
Angel or saint on them vainly shall call!
    Downward they drift to our level of sorrow!
Laugh! The trade's flourishing, thanks to our nourishing!
    Pale droop the babes, while the mother's heart bleeds!
Sisters of Midnight, God's good, — He avenges us!
E'en as to dust and to foulness Man changes us,
    Back goes the sin to his innocent seed!

'One more unfortunate, weary of breath,' —
    Plunge! down she drops, leaving sorrow behind her.
'Rashly importunate, gone to her death!'
    Spare her your pity, O fool, when ye find her!
Stretch her out merrily, murmuring, 'Verily,
    Luck, spite of all, falls at last to her share!'
Life has rejected her, let the gulf swallow her!
Sisters of Midnight, make ready to follow her
    Down the deep waters of Death and Despair!

(From Through the Great City)


Victorian Web Robert Buchanan Contents

Last modified 27 September 2002