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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 |


 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.

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Written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox |

Christmas Fancies

 When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow, 
We hear sweet voices ringing from lands of long ago.
And etched on vacant places, Are half forgotten faces Of friends we used to cherish, and loves we used to know – When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow.
Uprising from the ocean of the present surging near, We see, with strange emotion that is not free from fear, That continent Elysian Long vanished from our vision, Youth’s lovely lost Atlantis, so mourned for and so dear, Uprising from the ocean of the present surging near.
When gloomy gray Decembers are roused to Christmas mirth, The dullest life remembers there once was joy on earth, And draws from youth’s recesses Some memory it possesses, And, gazing through the lens of time, exaggerates its worth, When gloomy gray December is roused to Christmas mirth.
When hanging up the holly or mistletoe, I wis Each heart recalls some folly that lit the world with bliss.
Not all the seers and sages With wisdom of the ages Can give the mind such pleasure as memories of that kiss When hanging up the holly or mistletoe, I wis.
For life was made for loving, and love alone repays, As passing years are proving for all of Time’s sad ways.
There lies a sting in pleasure, And fame gives shallow measure, And wealth is but a phantom that mocks the restless days, For life was made for loving, and only loving pays.
When Christmas bells are pelting the air with silver chimes, And silences are melting to soft, melodious rhymes, Let Love, the worlds beginning, End fear and hate and sinning; Let Love, the God Eternal, be worshipped in all climes When Christmas bells are pelting the air with silver chimes.

Written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox |

Loves Language

 How does Love speak? 
In the faint flush upon the tell-tale cheek, 
And in the pallor that succeeds it; by
The quivering lid of an averted eye –
The smile that proves the parent to a sigh –
Thus doth Love speak.
How does Love speak? By the uneven heart-throbs, and the freak Of bounding pulses that stand still and ache, While new emotions, like strange barques, make Along vein-channels their disturbing course; Still as the dawn, and with the dawn’s swift force – Thus doth Love speak.
How does Love speak? In the avoidance of that which we seek – The sudden silence and reserve when near – The eye that glistens with an unshed tear – The joy that seems the counterpart of fear, As the alarmed heart leaps in the breast, And knows, and names, the greets its god-like guest – Thus doth Love speak.
How doth Love speak? In the proud spirit suddenly grown meek – The haughty heart grown humble; in the tender And unnamed light that floods the world with splendour, In the resemblance which the fond eyes trace In all things to one beloved face; In the shy touch of hands that thrill and tremble; In looks and lips that can no more dissemble – Thus doth Love speak.
How doth Love speak? In the wild words that uttered seem so weak They shrink ashamed to silence; in the fire Glance strikes with glance, swift flashing high and higher, Like lightnings that precede the mighty storm; In the deep, soulful stillness; in the warm, Impassioned tide that sweeps through throbbing veins, Between the shores of keen delights and pains; In the embrace where madness melts in bliss, And in convulsive rapture of a kiss – Thus doth Love speak.

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.

Written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox |

A Holiday

 The Wife
The house is like a garden,
The children are the flowers,
The gardener should come methinks
And walk among his bowers,
Oh! lock the door on worry
And shut your cares away,
Not time of year, but love and cheer,
Will make a holiday.
The Husband Impossible! You women do not know The toil it takes to make a business grow.
I cannot join you until very late, So hurry home, nor let the dinner wait.
The Wife The feast will be like Hamlet Without a Hamlet part: The home is but a house, dear, Till you supply the heart.
The Xmas gift I long for You need not toil to buy; Oh! give me back one thing I lack – The love-light in your eye.
The Husband Of course I love you, and the children too.
Be sensible, my dear, it is for you I work so hard to make my business pay.
There, now, run home, enjoy your holiday.
The Wife (turning) He does not mean to wound me, I know his heart is kind.
Alas! that man can love us And be so blind, so blind.
A little time for pleasure, A little time for play; A word to prove the life of love And frighten care away! Tho’ poor my lot in some small cot That were a holiday.
The Husband (musing) She has not meant to wound me, nor to vex – Zounds! but ‘tis difficult to please the sex.
I’ve housed and gowned her like a very queen Yet there she goes, with discontented mien.
I gave her diamonds only yesterday: Some women are like that, do what you may.

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 |

Poverty And Wealth

 The stork flew over a town one day, 
And back of each wing an infant lay; 
One to a rich man’s home he brought, 
And one he left at a labourer’s cot.
The rich man said, ‘My son shall be A lordly ruler o’er land and sea.
’ The labourer sighed, ‘’Tis the good God’s will That I have another mouth to fill.
’ The rich man’s son grew strong and fair, And proud with the pride of a millionaire.
His motto in life was, ‘Live while you may, ’ And he crowded years in a single day.
He bought position and name and place, And he bought him a wife with a handsome face.
He journeyed over the whole wide world, But discontent his heart lay curled Like a serpent hidden in leaves and moss, And life seemed hollow and gold was dross.
He scoffed at woman, and doubted God, And died like a beast and went back to the sod.
The son of the labourer tilled the soil, And thanked God daily for health and toil.
He wedded for love in his youthful prime, And two lives chorded in tune and time.
His wants were simple, and simple his creed, To trust God fully: it served his need, And lightened his labour, and helped him to die With a smile on his lips and a hope in his eye.
When all is over and all is done, Now which of these men was the richer one?

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 |

Here And Now

 Here, in the heart of the world, 
Here, in the noise and the din, 
Here, where our spirits were hurled
To battle with sorrow and sin, 
This is the place and the spot
For knowledge of infinite things; 
This is the kingdom where Thought
Can conquer the prowess of kings.
Wait for no heavenly life, Seek for no temple alone; Here, in the midst of the strife, Know what the sages have known.
See what the Perfect Ones saw- God in the depth of each soul, God as the light and the law, God as beginning and goal.
Earth is one chamber of Heaven, Death is no grander than birth.
Joy in the life that was given, Strive for perfection on earth.
Here, in the turmoil and roar, Show what it is to be calm; Show how the spirit can soar And bring back its healing and balm.
Stand not aloof nor apart, Plunge in the thick of the fight.
There in the street and the mart, That is the place to do right.
Not in some cloister or cave, Not in some kingdom above, Here, on this side of the grave, Here, should we labor and love.

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 |

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 |


 I wandered o'er the vast green plains of youth, 
And searched for Pleasure.
On a distant height Fame's silhouette stood sharp against the skies.
Beyond vast crowds that thronged a broad highway I caught the glimmer of a golden goal, While from a blooming bower smiled siren Love.
Straight gazing in her eyes, I laughed at Love, With all the haughty insolence of youth, As past her bower I strode to seek my goal.
'Now will I climb to glory's dizzy height, ' I said, ' for there above the common way Doth pleasure dwell companioned by the skies.
' But when I reached that summit near the skies, So far from man I seemed, so far from Love- 'Not here, ' I cried, 'doth Pleasure find her way, ' Seen from the distant borderland of youth.
Fame smiles upon us from her sun-kissed height, But frowns in shadows when we reach the goal.
Then were mine eyes fixed on that glittering goal, Dear to all sense-sunk souls beneath the skies.
Gold tempts the artist from the lofty height, Gold lures the maiden from the arms of Love, Gold buys the fresh ingenuous heart of youth, 'And gold, ' I said, 'will show me Pleasure's way.
' But ah! the soil and discord of that way, Where savage hordes rushed headlong to the goal, Dead to the best impulses of their youth, Blind to the azure beauty of the skies; Dulled to the voice of conscience and of love, They wandered far from Truth's eternal height.
Then Truth spoke to me from that noble height, Saying: 'Thou didst pass Pleasure on the way, She with the yearning eyes so full of Love, Whom thou disdained to seek for glory's goal.
' Two blending paths beneath God's arching skies Lead straight to Pleasure.
Ah, blind heart of youth, Not up fame's height, not toward the base god's goal, Doth Pleasure make her way, but 'neath calm skies Where Duty walks with Love in endless youth.