Ella Wheeler Wilcox
We currently have seven poems by Ella Wheeler Wilcox. You can listen to them all one after the other using the playlist below or if you prefer you can click the links further down to read a specific poem whilst listening to it.
Read and listen to Bleak Weather
Dear love, where the red lillies blossomed and grew,
The white snows are falling;
And all through the wood, where I wandered with you,
The loud winds are calling;
And the robin that piped to us tune upon tune,
Neath the elm—you remember,
Over tree-top and mountain has followed the June,
And left us—December.
Has left, like a friend that is true in the sun,
And false in the shadows.
He has found new delights, in the land where he’s gone,
Greener woodlands and meadows.
What care we? let him go! let the snow shroud the lea,
Let it drift on the heather!
We can sing through it all; I have you—you have me,
And we’ll laugh at the weather.
The old year may die, and a new one be born
That is bleaker and colder;
But it cannot dismay us; we dare it—we scorn,
For love makes us bolder.
Ah Robin! sing loud on the far-distant lea,
Thou friend in fair weather;
But here is a song sung, that’s fuller of glee,
By two warm hearts together.
Read and listen to Friendship After Love
After the fierce midsummer all ablaze
Has burned itself to ashes, and expires
In the intensity of its own fires,
There come the mellow, mild, St. Martin days
Crowned with the calm of peace, but sad with haze.
So after Love has led us, till he tires
Of his own throes, and torments, and desires,
Comes large-eyed friendship: with a restful gaze,
He beckons us to follow, and across
Cool verdant vales we wander free from care.
Is it a touch of frost lies in the air?
Why are we haunted with a sense of loss?
We do not wish the pain back, or the heat;
And yet, and yet, these days are incomplete.
Read and listen to I Love You
I love your lips when they’re wet with wine
And red with a wild desire;
I love your eyes when the lovelight lies
Lit with a passionate fire.
I love your arms when the warm white flesh
Touches mine in a fond embrace;
I love your hair when the strands enmesh
Your kisses against my face.
Not for me the cold, calm kiss
Of a virgin’s bloodless love;
Not for me the saint’s white bliss,
Nor the heart of a spotless dove.
But give me the love that so freely gives
And laughs at the whole world’s blame,
With your body so young and warm in my arms,
It sets my poor heart aflame.
So kiss me sweet with your warm wet mouth,
Still fragrant with ruby wine,
And say with a fervor born of the South
That your body and soul are mine.
Clasp me close in your warm young arms,
While the pale stars shine above,
And we’ll live our whole young lives away
In the joys of a living love.
Read and listen to Nothing New
Oh, what am I but an engine, shod
With muscle and flesh, by the hand of God,
Speeding on through the dense, dark night,
Guided alone by the soul’s white light.
Often and often my mad heart tires,
And hates its way with a bitter hate,
And longs to follow its own desires,
And leave the end in the hands of fate.
O, mighty engine of steel and steam;
O, human engine of blood and bone,
Follow the white light’s certain beam—
There lies safety, and there alone.
The narrow track of fearless truth,
Lit by the soul’s great eye of light,
O passionate heart of restless youth,
Alone will carry you through the night.
Read and listen to Solitude
Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone;
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air;
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.
Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go;
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all,—
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life’s gall.
Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a large and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.
Read and listen to The Disappointed
There are songs enough for the hero,
Who dwells on the heights of fame;
I sing for the disappointed –
For those who missed their aim.
I sing with a tearful cadence
For one who stands in the dark,
And knows that his last, best arrow
Has bounded back from the mark.
I sing for the breathless runner,
The eager, anxious soul,
Who falls with his strength exhausted,
Almost in sight of the goal;
For the hearts that break in silence
With a sorrow all unknown,
For those who need companions,
Yet walk their ways alone.
There are songs enough for the lovers
Who share love’s tender pain,
I sing for the one whose passion
Is given all in vain.
For those whose spirit comrades
Have missed them on the way
I sing with a heart overflowing,
This minor strain to-day.
And I know the solar system
Must somewhere keep in space
A prize for that spent runner
Who barely lost the race.
For the plan would be imperfect
Unless it held some sphere
That paid for the toil and talent
And love that are wasted here.
Read and listen to War Mothers
There is something in the sound of drum and fife
That stirs all the savage instincts into life.
In the old times of peace we went our ways,
Through proper days
Of little joys and tasks. Lonely at times,
When from the steeple sounded wedding chimes,
Telling to all the world some maid was wife—
But taking patiently our part in life
As it was portioned us by Church and State,
Believing it our fate.
Our thoughts all chaste
Held yet a secret wish to love and mate
Ere youth and virtue should go quite to waste.
But men we criticised for lack of strength,
And kept them at arm’s length.
Then the war came—
The world was all aflame!
The men we had thought dull and void of power
Were heroes in an hour.
He who had seemed a slave to petty greed
Showed masterful in that great time of need.
He who had plotted for his neighbour’s pelf,
Now for his fellows offers up himself.
And we were only women, forced by war
To sacrifice the things worth living for.
Something within us broke,
Something within us woke,
The wild cave-woman spoke.
When we heard the sound of drumming,
As our soldiers went to camp,
Heard them tramp, tramp, tramp;
As we watched to see them coming,
And they looked at us and smiled
(Yes, looked back at us and smiled),
As they filed along by hillock and by hollow,
Then our hearts were so beguiled
That, for many and many a day,
We dreamed we heard them say,
‘Oh, follow, follow, follow!’
And the distant, rolling drum
Called us ‘Come, come, come!’
Till our virtue seemed a thing to give away.
War had swept ten thousand years away from earth.
We were primal once again.
There were males, not modern men;
We were females meant to bring their sons to birth.
And we could not wait for any formal rite,
We could hear them calling to us, ‘Come to-night;
For to-morrow, at the dawn,
We move on!’
And the drum
Bellowed, ‘Come, come, come!’
And the fife
Whistled, ‘Life, life, life!’
So they moved on and fought and bled and died;
Honoured and mourned, they are the nation’s pride.
We fought our battles, too, but with the tide
Of our red blood, we gave the world new lives.
Because we were not wives
We are dishonoured. Is it noble, then,
To break God’s laws only by killing men
To save one’s country from destruction?
We took no man’s life but gave our chastity,
And sinned the ancient sin
To plant young trees and fill felled forests in.
Oh, clergy of the land,
Bible in hand,
All reverently you stand,
On holy thoughts intent
While barren wives receive the sacrament!
Had you the open visions you could see
Phantoms of infants murdered in the womb,
Who never knew a cradle or a tomb,
Hovering about these wives accusingly.
Bestow the sacrament! Their sins are not well known—
Ours to the four winds of the earth are blown.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox 1850 - 1919
Was an American author and poet. Her works include Poems of Passion and Solitude, which contains the lines “Laugh, and the world laughs with you; weep, and you weep alone.” Her autobiography, The Worlds and I, was published in 1918, a year before her death.
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