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The Gate Of Hell, Or, On The Redemption Of Souls

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Once there was a soldier whose life was not wholesome
And many of his habits were not fulsome.
Though he hoped to go to Heav'n it was not to be
Because he had behaved so wickedly.
Saint Peter took his measure and decided
That he was not good enough to be admitted
And so he was sent off to HELL instead.

The road to Hell was not a pretty sight
Everything was lit by a gloomy twilight
And it was not possible to find an ally
Nay nor even to see the sky.

Although there was a giant castle of burning fire
Inside which damned souls are tortured on a pyre
Those who have strayed from the path of right
And thus have come to a terrible plight.
This cast itself an eerie light
That was not cause for joy or delight
But instead looked to have burnt for aeons
Fuelled by the burning bodies of felons
Who had been sent to HELL instead.

Although the walls could not quite be seen
Beneath their dusky screen
Yet a man could just be spied
Marching up and down the ramparts wide
And he was visible because he was on fire
The flames climbed around him and still yet he did not expire.
His firey armour seemed quite magical
As if from an ancient song or madrigal
And though he looked very smart
It must have hurt him to his heart
Because he had been sent to HELL instead.

Our soldier thought back upon his life
And all the trouble he had caused and strife
From Land's End all the way to Fife
And especially to his poor long-suffering wife.
Because he had allowed himself to be tempted
By drink and all the things that preempt it
Fighting and gambling and even worse
The drunkard's everlasting curse.

The sentry too must have lived a very bad life
To be punished with such awful strife
Perhaps he killed a man for a locket
Or robbed a house to line his pocket
For these can lead to the gates of Hell
No matter whether done ill or well.

Our soldier thought he knew the wretch
Maybe he had fought in the same trench.
Shared drink and songs and chatter
And if they had stopped there, no matter
But they had also progressed to debauchery
And of God's law made a mockery
And so they had gone to HELL instead.

By the door there stood a maiden
To guard against the escape of the craven
For they must not avoid their fate
Especially not if their sins are great.
Our soldier recognised her too
Because at one time they had lived in the same avenue.

Then all of a sudden the soldier on the gate
Turned to our soldier, who was his mate
His spine was straight and his eye was keen
For even in Hell may camaraderie be seen.
He shouldered his rifle and took aim
Like a stalwart without blame
And because his aim was sure
He hit his target with fervour.

Thus was the Devil overcome
By the damnèd and the glum
Whose baser feelings came to mend
To halt the dreadful and otherwise inescapable peril of a friend.
Who had been sent to HELL instead.

And though you would expect retaliation
The city did not show any sign of habitation
No-one came pouring out of its gate
To accost the pair of reprobates
And both were saved from the fires of Hell
By the actions of a reformèd swell.

And let all young men take this as a lesson
Your eternal punishment you may lessen
Through good works and Godly ways
Spread throughout your living days.
For even on your deathbed you may be saved
From the terrible fate of the Godless and depraved
If you but repent and pray
And do not lead yourself astray
And your finer feelings show
Make sure that you do this though
Or you will be sent to HELL instead.