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Best Famous Ella Wheeler Wilcox Poems

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Written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox |

Last Love

 The first flower of the spring is not so fair 
Or bright, as one the ripe midsummer brings.
The first faint note the forest warbler sings Is not as rich with feeling, or so rare As when, full master of his art, the air Drowns in the liquid sea of song he flings Like silver spray from beak, and breast, and wings.
The artist's earliest effort wrought with care, The bard's first ballad, written in his tears, Set by his later toil seems poor and tame.
And into nothing dwindles at the test.
So with the passions of maturer years Let those who will demand the first fond flame, Give me the heart's last love, for that is best.

Written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox |


 When my blood flows calm as a purling river, 
When my heart is asleep and my brain has sway, 
It is then that I vow we must part for ever, 
That I will forget you, and put you away
Out of my life, as a dream is banished
Out of the mind when the dreamer awakes; 
That I know it will be when the spell has vanished, 
Better for both of our sakes.
When the court of the mind is ruled by Reason, I know it wiser for us to part; But Love is a spy who is plotting treason, In league with that warm, red rebel, the Heart.
They whisper to me that the King is cruel, That his reign is wicked, his law a sin, And every word they utter is fuel To the flame that smoulders within.
And on nights like this, when my blood runs riot With the fever of youth and its mad desires, When my brain in vain bids my heart be quiet, When my breast seems the centre of lava-fires, Oh, then is when most I miss you, And I swear by the stars and my soul and say That I will have you, and hold you, and kiss you, Though the whole world stands in the way.
And like Communists, as mad, as disloyal, My fierce emotions roam out of their lair; They hate King Reason for being royal – They would fire his castle, and burn him there.
O Love! They would clasp you, and crush you and kill you, In the insurrection of uncontrol.
Across the miles, does this wild war thrill you That is raging in my soul?

Written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox |


 I must do as you do? Your way I own
Is a very good way, and still,
There are sometimes two straight roads to a town,
One over, one under the hill.
You are treading the safe and the well-worn way, That the prudent choose each time; And you think me reckless and rash to-day Because I prefer to climb.
Your path is the right one, and so is mine.
We are not like peas in a pod, Compelled to lie in a certain line, Or else be scattered abroad.
'T were a dull old world, methinks, my friend, If we all just went one way; Yet our paths will meet no doubt at the end, Though they lead apart today.
You like the shade, and I like the sun; You like an even pace, I like to mix with the crowd and run, And then rest after the race.
I like danger, and storm, and strife, You like a peaceful time; I like the passion and surge of life, You like its gentle rhyme.
You like buttercups, dewy sweet, And crocuses, framed in snow; I like roses, born of the heat, And the red carnation's glow.
I must live my life, not yours, my friend, For so it was written down; We must follow our given paths to the end, But I trust we shall meet--in town.

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Written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox |


 Ah yes, I love you, and with all my heart; 
Just as a weaker woman loves her own, 
Better than I love my beloved art, 
Which, until you came, reigned royally, alone, 
My king, my master.
Since I saw your face I have dethroned it, and you hold that place.
I am as weak as other women are – Your frown can make the whole world like a tomb Your smile shines brighter than the sun, by far; Sometimes I think there is not space or room In all the earth for such a love as mine, And it soars up to breathe in realms divine.
I know that your desertion or neglect Could break my heart, as women’s hearts do break; If my wan days had nothing to expect From your love’s splendour, all joy would forsake The chambers of my soul.
Yes this is true.
And yet, and yet – one thing I keep from you.
There is a subtle part of me, which went Into my long pursued and worshipped art; Though your great love fills me with such content, No other love finds room now in my heart.
Yet that rare essence was my art’s alone.
Thank God, you cannot grasp it; ‘tis mine own.
Thank God, I say, for while I love you so, With that vast love, as passionate as tender, I feel an exultation as I know I have not made you a complete surrender.
Here is my body; bruise it, if you will, And break my heart; I have that something still.
You cannot grasp it.
Seize the breath of morn, Or bind the perfume of the rose as well.
God put it in my soul when I was born; It is not mine to give away, or sell, Or offer up on any alter shrine.
It was my art’s; and when not art’s, ‘tis mine.
For Love’s sake, I can put the art away, Or anything which stands ‘twixt me and you, But that strange essence God bestowed, I say, To permeate the work He gave to do: And it cannot be drained, dissolved, or sent Through any channel, save the one He meant.

Written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox |


 We walk on starry fields of white
And do not see the daisies;
For blessings common in our sight
We rarely offer praises.
We sigh for some supreme delight To crown our lives with splendor, And quite ignore our daily store Of pleasures sweet and tender.
Our cares are bold and push their way Upon our thought and feeling.
They hang about us all the day, Our time from pleasure stealing.
So unobtrusive many a joy We pass by and forget it, But worry strives to own our lives And conquers if we let it.
There's not a day in all the year But holds some hidden pleasure, And looking back, joys oft appear To brim the past's wide measure.
But blessings are like friends, I hold, Who love and labor near us.
We ought to raise our notes of praise While living hearts can hear us.
Full many a blessing wears the guise Of worry or of trouble.
Farseeing is the soul and wise Who knows the mask is double.
But he who has the faith and strength To thank his God for sorrow Has found a joy without alloy To gladden every morrow.
We ought to make the moments notes Of happy, glad Thanksgiving; The hours and days a silent phrase Of music we are living.
And so the theme should swell and grow As weeks and months pass o'er us, And rise sublime at this good time, A grand Thanksgiving chorus.

Written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox |


 ‘Anticipation is sweeter than realisation.
’ It may be, yet I have not found it so.
In those first golden dreams of future fame I did not find such happiness as came When toil was crowned with triumph.
Now I know My words have recognition, and will go Straight to some listening heart, my early aim, To win the idle glory of a name, Pales like a candle in the noonday’s glow.
So with the deeper joys of which I dreamed: Life yields more rapture than did childhood’s fancies, And each year brings more pleasure than I waited.
Friendship proves truer than of old it seemed, And, all beyond youth’s passion-hued romances, Love is more perfect than anticipated.

Written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox |

I Am

I know not whence I came, 
I know not whither I go; 
But the fact stands clear that I am here
In this world of pleasure and woe.
And out of the mist and the murk Another truth shines plain – It is my power each day and hour To add to its joy or its pain.
I know that the earth exists, It is none of my business why; I cannot find out what it’s all about, I would but waste time to try.
My life is a brief, brief thing, I am here for a little space, And while I stay I would like, if I may, To brighten and better the place.
The trouble, I think, with us all Is the lack of a high conceit.
If each man thought he was sent to this spot To make it a bit more sweet, How soon we could gladden the world, How easily right all wrong, If nobody shirked, and each one worked To help his fellows along! Cease wondering why you came – Stop looking for faults and flaws; Rise up to-day in your pride and say, ‘I am part of the First Great Cause! However full the world, There is room for an earnest man.
It had need of me, or I would not be – I am here to strengthen the plan.

Written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox |

It Might Have Been

 We will be what we could be.
Do not say, "It might have been, had not this, or that, or this.
" No fate can keep us from the chosen way; He only might who is.
We will do what we could do.
Do not dream Chance leaves a hero, all uncrowned to grieve.
I hold, all men are greatly what they seem; He does, who could achieve.
We will climb where we could climb.
Tell me not Of adverse storms that kept thee from the height.
What eagle ever missed the peak he sought? He always climbs who might.
I do not like the phrase "It might have been!" It lacks force, and life's best truths perverts: For I believe we have, and reach, and win, Whatever our deserts.

Written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox |

Old And New

 Long have the poets vaunted, in their lays, 
Old times, old loves, old friendships, and old wine
Why should the old monopolise all praise? 
Then let the new claim mine.
Give me strong new friends, when the old prove weak, Or fail me in my darkest hour of need; Why perish with the ship that springs a leak, Or lean upon a read? Give me new love, warm, palpitating, sweet, When all the grace and beauty leaves the old; When like a rose it withers at my feet, Or like a hearth grows cold.
Give me new times, bright with a prosperous cheer, In place of old, tear-blotted, burdened days; I hold a sunlit present far more dear, And worthy of my praise.
When the old creeds are threadbare, and worn through, And all too narrow for the broadening soul, Give me the fine, firm texture of the new, Fair, beautiful and whole.

Written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox |

A Grey Mood

 As we hurry away to the end, my friend,
Of this sad little farce called existence,
We are sure that the future will bring one thing,
And that is the grave in the distance.
And so when our lives run along all wrong, And nothing seems real or certain, We can comfort ourselves with the thought (or not) Of that spectre behind the curtain.
But we haven’t much time to repine or whine, Or to wound or jostle each other; And the hour for us each is to-day, I say, If we mean to assist a brother.
And there is no pleasure that earth gives birth, But the worry it brings is double; And all that repays for the strife of life, Is helping some soul in trouble.
I tell you, if I could go back the track To my life’s morning hour, I would not set forth, seeking name or fame, Or that poor bauble called power.
I would be like the sunlight, and live to give; I would lend, but I would not borrow; Nor would I be blind and complain of pain, Forgetting the meaning of sorrow.
This world is a vaporous jest at best, Tossed off by the gods in laughter; And a cruel attempt at wit were it If nothing better came after.
It is reeking with hearts that ache and break, Which we ought to comfort and strengthen, As we hurry away to the end, my friend, And the shadows behind us lengthen.

Written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox |

Pardoned Out

 I’m pardoned out.
Again the stars Shine on me with their myriad eyes.
So long I’ve peered ‘twixt iron bars, I’m awed by this expanse of skies.
The world is wider than I thought, And yet ‘tis not so wide, I know, But into its remotest spot My tale of shame can go.
I’m pardoned out.
Old Father Time Who seemed to halt in horror, when I strained my manhood by a crime, With steady step moves on again, And through the black appalling night, That walled me in a gloom accurst, The wonder of the morning light In sudden glory burst.
I’m pardoned out.
I shall be knows No more by number, but by name.
And yet each whispering wind has blown Abroad the story of my shame.
I dread to see men shrink away With startled looks of scorn or fear, When in life’s crowded marts some day, That name falls on their ear.
I’m pardoned out, ah God! to roam Like some whipped dog among my kind.
I have no friends, I have no home, Save these bleak walls I leave behind.
How can I face the world of men, My comrades in the days of yore? Oh! hide me in my cell again, And, warden lock the door.

Written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox |

Artists Life

 Of all the waltzes the great Strauss wrote,
mad with melody, rhythm--rife
From the very first to the final note,
Give me his "Artist's Life!"

It stirs my blood to my finger ends,
Thrills me and fills me with vague unrest,
And all that is sweetest and saddest blends
Together within my breast.
It brings back that night in the dim arcade, In love's sweet morning and life's best prime, When the great brass orchestra played and played, And set our thoughts to rhyme.
It brings back that Winter of mad delights, Of leaping pulses and tripping feet, And those languid moon-washed Summer nights When we heard the band in the street.
It brings back rapture and glee and glow, It brings back passion and pain and strife, And so of all the waltzes I know, Give me the "Artist's Life.
" For it is so full of the dear old time-- So full of the dear friends I knew.
And under its rhythm, and lilt, and rhyme, I am always finding--you.

Written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox |

Love is Enough

 Love is enough.
Let us not ask for gold.
Wealth breeds false aims, and pride and selfishness; In those serene, Arcadian days of old Men gave no thought to princely homes and dress.
The gods who dwelt on fair Olympia's height Lived only for dear love and love's delight.
Love is enough.
Love is enough.
Why should we care for fame? Ambition is a most unpleasant guest: It lures us with the glory of a name Far from the happy haunts of peace and rest.
Let us stay here in this secluded place Made beautiful by love's endearing grace! Love is enough.
Love is enough.
Why should we strive for power? It brings men only envy and distrust.
The poor world's homage pleases but an hour, And earthly honours vanish in the dust.
The grandest lives are ofttimes desolate; Let me be loved, and let who will be great.
Love is enough.
Love is enough.
Why should we ask for more? What greater gift have gods vouchsafed to men? What better boon of all their precious store Than our fond hearts that love and love again? Old love may die; new love is just as sweet; And life is fair and all the world complete: Love is enough!

Written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox |


 You left me with the autumn time; 
When the winter stripped the forest bare, 
Then dressed it in his spotless rime; 
When frosts were lurking in the air
You left me here and went away.
The winds were cold; you could not stay.
You sought a warmer clime, until The south wind, artful maid, should break The winter's trumpets, and should fill The air with songs of birds; and wake The sleeping blossoms on the plain And make the brooks to flow again.
I thought that the winter desolate, And all times felt a sense of loss.
I taught my longing heart to wait, And said, 'When Spring shall come across The hills, with blossoms in her track, The she, our loved one, will come back.
' And now the hills with grass and moss The spring with cunning hands has spread, And yet I feel my grievous loss.
My heart will not be comforted, But crieth daily, 'Where is she You promised should come back to me? ' Oh, love! where are you? day by day I seek to find you, but in vain.
Men point me to a grave, and say: 'There is her bed upon the plain.
' But though I see no trace of you, I cannot thiink their words are true.
You were too sweet to wholly pass Away from earth, and leave no trace; You were to fair to let the grass Grow rank and tall above your face.
Your voice, that mocked the robin's trill, I cannot think is hushed and still.
I thought I saw your golden hair One day, and reached to touch a strand; I found but yellow sunbeams there - The bright rays fell aslant my hand, And seemed to mock, with lights and shades, The silken meshes of your braids.
Again, I thought I saw your hand Wave, as if beckoning to me; I found 'twas but a lily, fanned By the cool zephyrs from the sea.
Oh, love! I find no trace of you - I wonder if their words were true? One day I heard a singing voice; A burst of music, trill on trill.
It made my very soul rejoice; My heart gave and exultant thrill.
I cried, 'Oh heart, we've found her - hush! ' But no - 'twas the silver-throated thrush.
And once I thought I saw your face, And wild with joy I ran to you; But found, when I had reached the place, 'Twas a blush rose, bathed in dew.
Ah, love! I think you must be dead; And I believe the words they said.

Written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox |

All That Love Asks

 All that I ask, 'says Love, 'is just to stand
And gaze, unchided, deep in thy dear eyes;
For in their depths lies largest Paradise.
Yet, if perchance one pressure of thy hand Be granted me, then joy I thought complete Were still more sweet.
'All that I ask, ' says Love, 'all that I ask, Is just thy hand clasp.
Could I brush thy cheek As zephyrs brush a rose leaf, words are weak To tell the bliss in which my soul would bask.
There is no language but would desecrate A joy so great.
'All that I ask, is just one tender touch Of that soft cheek.
Thy pulsing palm in mine, Thy dark eyes lifted in a trust divine And those curled lips that tempt me overmuch Turned where I may not seize the supreme bliss Of one mad kiss.
'All that I ask, ' says Love, 'of life, of death, Or of high heaven itself, is just to stand, Glance melting into glance, hand twined in hand, The while I drink the nectar of thy breath, In one sweet kiss, but one, of all thy store, I ask no more.
' 'All that I ask'-nay, self-deceiving Love, Reverse thy phrase, so thus the words may fall, In place of 'all I ask, ' say, 'I ask all, ' All that pertains to earth or soars above, All that thou wert, art, will be, body, soul, Love asks the whole.