Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

An erring woman's love online

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Ella Wheeler Wilcox

MAURI NE: A Love Story in Vers*



THREE WOMEN: A Story In Verse

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Copyright, iSqs.





An Erring Woman's Love, 5

A Song of Republics, , 25

Worth While, 29

CoLEUR DE Rose, 31

Memorial Day — 1892, 34

Life's Track, . , . . . 37

When Baby Souls Sail Out, 39

An Ode to Time, 42

A Married Coquette, . . . . , . .45

New Year, . 51

Double Carnations, ..,.•.. 53

Swimming Song, 55

Regret and Remorse, 57

Easter Morn, 58

Blind, 60

Two Women, 62

As You Go Through Life, 64

The Yellow-covered Almanac, 66

Success, 70

It All Will Come Out Right, 73

The Little Whue Hearse, 75

Realization, 77

The Lady and the Dame, 78

Love's Supremacy, 8i

I V 1 5^V> v.?*.y 4.>C7

2 Contents,

The PyEAN OF Peace, ....... 83

The Eternal Will, 86

Insight %%

Heaven and Hell, 90

A Woman's Love, 91

Reform, 94

To Another Woman's Baby, 95

Diamonds, 96

Rubies 96

Sapphires, 97

Turquoise, 97

Memory's River, 98

"Has Been," 102

A Minor Chord, 104

Last Love, 105

Death's Protest 106

Duty's Path, 107

September, 109

March, . .110

The Summer Girl, m

Sun Shadows . . . .114

Thoughts 115

The End of the Summer, 116

" He that Looketh," 119

Wail of an Old-timer 121

Concentration, 124

A Warning, . 125

Was, Is, and Yet-to-be, 126

Mistakes 129

Dual 131

The Rape of the Mist, 133

Contents. 3


The All-Creative Spark, 135

Be Not Content, 137

Action, 139

Two Roses, . . 141

Shrines, 143

Satiety, 145

The Watcher, . 146

A Solar Eclipse, 148

The Depths, 149

A Suggestion, . 150

Life's Opera . • • 152

Luck, 153

The Salt Sea-Wjnp, <...... 154

Never Mind, »'«>•••.• 156


Part I.

She was a light and wanton maid :

Not one whom fickle Love betrayed,

For indolence was her undoer.

Fair, frivolous, and very poor,

She scorned the thought of toil, in youth,

And chose the path that leads from truth.

More women fall from want of gold.
Than love leads wrong, if truth were told ;
More women sin for gay attire
Than sin through passion's blinding fire.
Her god was gold : and gold she saw
Prove mightier than the sternest law
With judge and jury, priest and king;

^ Att Erring Woman s Love,

So, made herself an offering

At Mammon's shrine ; and lived for power,

And ease, and pleasures of the hour.

Who looks beneath life's outer crust

Is satisfied that God is just ;

Who looks not under, but about,

Finds much to make him sad with doubt.

For Virtue walks with feet worn bare.

While Sin rides by with coach and pair :

Men praise the modest heart and chaste,

And yet they let it go to waste,

And follow, fierce to have and hold

Some creature, wanton, selfish, bold.

She saw but this, life's outer side,
No higher faith was hers to guide ;
She worshipped gold, and hated toil,
And hence her youth with all its soil,
With all its sins too dark to name,
Of secret crimes and public shame,

An Erri}ig Woman s Love,

With all its trail of broken lives.
Of ruined homes, neglected wives,
And weeping mothers. Proud and gay-
She w^ent her devastating way
With untouched brow and fadeless grace.

Not time but feeling marks the face.

Sin on the outer being tells

Not till the startled soul rebels :

And she felt nothing but content.

She was too light and indolent

To worry over days to come.

This little earth held all life's sum

She thought, and to be young and fair,

Well clothed, well fed, was all her care.

With pitying eyes and lifted head

She gazed on those who toiled for bread,

And laughed to scorn the talk she heard

Of punishment for those who erred,

And virtue's certain recompense.

She seemed devoid of moral sense,

An Erring Woman s Love,

An ignorant thing whose appetites
Bound her horizon of delights.

Men were her puppets to control ;
Unconscious of a heart or soul
She lived and gloried, in the ease
She purchased, by her power to please
The eye and senses. Life's one woe
Which caused her pitying tears to flow,
Was poverty. Though hearts might break
And homes be ruined for her sake,
She showed no mercy. But when need
Of gold she saw, her heart would bleed.
The lack of clothing, fire and food.
Was earth's one pain, she understood.
The suffering poor oft blest her name.
Nor questioned whence the ducats came,
She gave so freely. Once she found
A fainting woman on the ground,
A wailing child clasped to her breast.
With her own hands she bath'd and dress'd

An Erring Woman's Love.

The weary waifs ! gave food and gold
And clothed them warmly from the cold,
Nor guessed that one she lured from home
Had caused that suffering pair to roam
Unhoused, neglected. Then one day,
Unheralded across her way,
The conqueror came. She knew not why,
But with the first glance of his eye,
A feeling, new and unexplained.
Woke in her what she oft had feigned.
And when his arm stole near her waist,
As startled maidens blush with chaste
Sweet fear at love's advances, so
She blushed from brow to breast of snow.
Strange, new emotions, fraught with joy
And pain commingled, made her coy ;
But when he would have clasped her neck
With gems that might a queen bedeck
And offered gold, her lips grew white.
With sudden anger at the sight
Of what had been her god for years.

10 An Erring Womaris Love.

She flung them from her. Then such tears
As only spring from love*^ despair
Welled from her eyes. " So, lady fair,
My gifts are scorned ?" quoth he, and laughed.
" Like Cleopatra, you have quaffed
Such lordly pearls in draughts of wine,
Ypu spurn poor simple gems like mine.
Well, well, fair queen, I'll bring to you
A richer gift next time— — Adieu."

His light words stung like lash of whip;
With gasping breath and ashen lip
She strove to speak, but he was gone.
She kneeled and pressed her mouth upon
The latch his hand had touched, the floor
His foot had trod, and o'er and o'er
She sobbed his name, as children moan
A mother's name when left alone.

Out from the dim and roseate gloom
And subtle odors of her room,

An Erring Woman's Love, II

Accusing memories rose. She felt

A loneliness that seemed to belt

The universe in its embrace.

It was as if from some high place

A giant hand had reached and hurled

To nothingness her petty world,

And left her staring, awed, alone,

Up into regions vast, unknown.

There is no other loneliness

That can so sadden and oppress

As when beside the burned-out fire

Of sated passion and desire

The wakening spirit, in a glance,

Beholds its lost inheritance.

She rose and turned the dim lights higher,

Brought forth rich gems and grand attire.

And robed herself in feverish haste ;

Before the mirror posed and paced,

With jewels on her breast and wrists;

Then sudden clenched her little fists

And beat her face until it bled,

12 A?i Erring Woman s Love,

And tore her garments shred from shred,
Gazed in the mirror, spoke her name
And hissed a word that told her shame,
Then on her knees fell sobbing there.

There are sweet messengers of prayer,

Who down through space on soft wings steal,

And offer aid to all who kneel.

Her lips, unused to pious phrase,

Recalled some words of bygone days.

And " Now I lay me down to sleep

I pray the Lord my soul to keep "

She whispered timidly, and then

*' Lord let me be a child again

And grow up good." The strange prayer said,

Like some o'er weary child, her head

She pillowed on her arm, and wept

Low, shuddering sobs, until she slept

And dreamed ; and in that dream she thought

She sat within a vine-wreathed cot ;

An infant slumbered on her breast,

An Erring Woman's Love, 13

She crooned a lullaby,^ and pressed
Its waxen hand against her cheek,
While one too proud and fond to speak,
The happy father of the child.
Stood near, and gazing on them, smiled.

She woke while still the lullaby
Was on her lips — then such a cry,
As souls in fabled realms below
Might utter, voiced her awful woe.

The mighty moral labor pain

Of new-born conscience wracked her brain

And tore her soul. She understood

The meaning now of womanhood.

And chastity, and o'er her came

The full, dark sense of all her shame.

As some poor drunken wretch, at night,

Wakes up to know his piteous plight,

And sees, while sinking in the mire.

Afar, his waiting hearth-light's fire ;

14 An Erring Woman s Love,

So now she saw from depths of sin,
The hearth-light of the might-have-been.
How beautiful, how like a star
That lost light shone, but ah, how far!

She reached her longing arms toward space,

And lifted up her tear-wet face.

" Oh, God," she wailed, " I have been bad !

I see it all, and I am sad.

And long to be a good girl now.

Lord, Lord, will some one show me how ?

Why, men have trod the burning track

Of sin for years, and then gone back !

And cannot I for sin atone.

Or did Christ die for men alone ?

I want to lead an honest life,

I want to be his own true wife

And hold upon my breast his child."

Then suddenly her voice grew wild,

" No, no," she cried, " it could not be,

Those infant eyes would torture me—

An Erring Woman s Love, 1 5

Though God condoned my sinful ways
I could not meet my child's pure gaze."

She hid her face upon her knees,
And swayed as reeds sway in a breeze,
" Oh, Christ," she moaned, " could I forget
There might be something for me yet :
But though both God and man forgave.
And I should win the love I crave.
Why, memory would drive me mad."

When woman drifts from good to bad.
To make her final fall complete,
She puts her soul beneath her feet.
Man's dual selves seem separate;
He leaves his soul outside sin's eate
And finds it waiting when he tires
Of carnal pleasures and desires.
Depleted, sickened and depressed.
As souls must be with such a test,
Yet strong enough to help him grope
Back into happiness and hope.

1 6 An Erring Woman s Love,

But woman, far more complicate,
Can take no chances with her fate;
A subtle creature, finely spun,
Her body and her soul are one.
And now this erring woman wept
The soul she murdered while it slept.
She felt too stunned with pain to think.
She seemed to stand upon a brink;
Behind her loomed the sinful past,
Below her, rocks, beyond her, vast
And awful darkness. Not one ray
Of sun or star to show the way !
She drew a long and shuddering breath ;
" There is no other path but death
For me to tread," she sighed, " and so
I will prepare my house and go."

As housewives move with willing feet
And skilful hands to make things neat,
And ready for some welcome one,
She toiled until her tasks were done.

A7t Erring Woman's Love. 17

Then, seated at her desk, she wrote

With painful care, a tear-wet note.

The childish penmanship was rude,

111 spelled the words, the phrasing crude ;

Yet thought and feeling both were there

And mighty love and great despair.

" Dear heart," it ran, " you did not know

How, from the first, I loved you so,

That sin grew hateful in my sight.

And so I leave it all to-night.

The kiss 1 gave, dear heart, to you

Was love's first kiss, as pure and true

As ever lips of maiden gave.

I think 'twill warm my lonely grave,

And light the pathway I must tread

Among the hapless, homeless dead."

" When God formed worlds, He failed to make
A path for erring feet to take
Back into light and peace again,
Unless they were the feet of men.

1 8 An Erring Woman s Love.

When woman errs, and then regrets,

Her sun of hope forever sets,

And life is hung with deepest gloom.

In all the world there is no room

For such as she ; and so I hold

That death itself is not so cold

As life has seemed, since by love's light

I saw there was a wrong and right,

And that my birthright had been sold,

By my own hands, for tarnished gold.

I hated labor, hence I fell ;

But now I love you, dear, so well,

No greater boon my soul could crave

Than just to toil, a galley slave,

Through burdened years and years of lifC;

If at the last you called me wife

For one supreme and honored hour.

Alas ! too late I learn love's power,

Too late 1 realize my loss,

And have no strength to bear my cross ■

Of loneliness and dark disgrace.

An Erring Woman's Love. 19

There cannot be another place

So desolate, so full of fear,

As earth to me, without you, dear.

You will not understand, I know,

How one like me can love you so.

It was a strange, strange thing. Love came

So like a swift, devouring flame

And burned my frail, fair-weather boat

And left me on the waves afloat,

With nothing but a broken spar.

The distant shores seem very far;

I cannot reach them, so I sink.

God will forgive my sins, I think,

Because I die for love, like One

The good Book tells about, His Son.

For erring woman death can bring
No pain so keen as memory's sting.
Good night, good-by. God bless you, dear,
And give you love, and joy, and cheer.

20 An Erring Woman's Love,

But sometimes, in the dark night, say
A prayer for one who went astray.
And found no pathway back, and died
For love of you — a suicide."

When morn his glorious pinions spread
They found the erring woman dead.

Part II.

She woke as one wakes from a deep
And dreamless, yet exhausting sleep.

A strange confusion filled her mind
And sorrows vague and undefined,

Like half-remembered faces pressed
To memory's window, in her breast,

Gazed at her with reproachful eyes.
She felt a sudden, dazed surprise,

Ah Eri'ing Womaiis Love, 21

Commingled with a sense of dread,
" I did but sleep — I am not dead,

The potion and the purpose failed
And I still live," she wildly wailed.

*' Nay thou art dead, rash suicide "
A sad voice spake : and at her side

She saw a weird and shadowy crowd
With anguished lips, and shoulders bowed,

And orbs that seemed the wells of woe.

She shrieked and veiled her eyes. " No, no !

I am not dead ! I ache with life.
An earthly passion's hopeless strife

Still tortures me." "Yet tiiou art dead."
The voice with sad insistence said.

" But love and sorrow and regret
All die with death. / feel them yet.**

22 An Erring Woman s Love,

•* God bade thcc live, and only He
Can say when thou shalt cease to be."

*' But I was sin-sick, sad, alone —
I thought by death I could atone,

And died that Christ might show me how."
"Christ bore His burden, why not thou?'*

** Oh, lead me to His holy feet
And let my penance be complete."

" What ! thinkest thou to find that path—
Thou who hast tempted Heaven's wrath

By thy rash deed? Nay, nay not so,
Tis but perfected spirits go

To that supreme and final goal.

A self-sought death delays the soul.

With yonder shuddering, woeful throng
Of suicides thy ways belong.

A?i Erring Woman's Love, 23

Close to the earth a shadowy band,
Unseen but seeing all, they stand

Until their natural time to die,
As God intended, shall draw nigh.

On earth, repentant, sick of sin,

A ministering angel thou hadst been,

Whose patient toil and deeds divine
Had rescued souls as sad as thine.

Each deed a firm ascending stair
To lead beyond thy great despair.

But now it is thy mournful fate
To linger here and meditate

On thy dark past — to stand so near
The earthly plane that thou canst hear

Thy lover's voice, while old desire
Shall burn within thee like a fire,

24 An Erring Woman s Love,

And grief shall root thee to the spot
To find how soon thou art forgot.

Bat since thou hast endured the woes
That only fragile woman knows,

And loved as only woman can,
Thou shalt not suffer all that man

Must suffer when he interferes

With God's great law. In death's dim spheres

That justice waits, which men refuse.
Thy sex shall in some part excuse

Thy desperate deed. When God shall send
A second death to be thy friend,

Thou need'st not fear a darker fate —
Go forth with yonder throng and wait."


Fair Freedom's ship, too lon^ adrift — • /v

Of every wind tlie sport —
Now rigged and manned, her course well planned

Sails proudly out of port ;
And fluttering gaily from the mast

This motto is unfurled,
Let all men heed its truth who read :

" Republics Rule the World ! '*

The universe is high as God!

Good is the final goal ;
The world revolves and man evolves

A purpose and a soul.
No church can bind, no crowni forbid

Thought's mighty upward course-
Let kings give way before its sway,

For God inspires its force.

26 A Song- of Republics,

The hero of a vanished age /

Was one who bathed in gore;
Who best could fight was noblest knight

In savage days of yore ;
Now warrior chiefs are out of date,

The times have changed. To-day
We call men great who arbitrate

And keep war's hounds at bay.

The world no longer looks to priest

Or prince to know its needs;
Earth's human throng has grown too strong

To rule with courts and creeds.
We want no kings but kings of toil —

No crowns but crowns of deeds.
Not royal birth but sterling worth

Must mark the man who leads.

Proud monarchies are out of step

With modern thought to-day,
For Brotherhood is understood

A Song of Republics, 27

And thrones must pass away.
Men dare to think. Concerted thought

Contains more power than swords :
The force that binds united minds

Defeats mere savage hordes.

Man needs no arbitrary hand

To keep him in control,
Ht feels the power grow hour by hour

Of his expanding soul ;
In God's stupendous scheme of worlds,

He knows he has a place.
He i5 no slave .to cringe, and crave

Some worthless monarch's grace.

As ocean billows undermine

The haughty shores each hour,
Time's sea ha? brought its waves of thought

To crumble thrones of powe*-;
And one by one chal! lr'u?gdoii'is VIC

Like leaves before ti^e blast.

28 A Song of Republics.

As man with man combines to plan
Republics formed to last.

Columbia balked a tyrant king,

And built upon a rock,
In Freedom's name, a shrine whose fame

Outlived the century's shock.
Now France within our port has set
. Her symbol of re-birth.
Her lifted hand tells sea and land,

Republics light the earth.

One mighty church for all the world

Would make men far more kind.
One government would bring content

To many a restless mind.
Sail on, fair ship of Freedom, sail

The wide sea's breadth and length.
'Till worlds unite to make the might

Of "One Republic's" strength.


It is easy enough to be pleasant,

When life flows by like a song,
But the man worth while is one who will smile,

When everything goes dead wrong.
For the test of the heart is trouble.

And it always comes with the years,
And the smile that is worth the praises of earth,

Is the smile that shines through tears.

It is easy enough to be prudent,

When nothing tempts you to stray,
When without or within no voice of sin

Is luring your soul away ;
But it's only a negative virtue

Until it is tried by fire,
And the life that is worth the honor on earth,

Is the one that resists desire.


30 Worth While,

By the cynic, the sad, the fallen,

Who had no strength for the strife,
The world's highway is cumbered to-day,

They make up the sum of life.
But the virtue that conquers passion.

And the sorrow that hides in a smile.
It is these that are worth the homage on earth.

For we find them but once in a while.


I WANT more lives in which to love

This world so full of beauty,
I want more days to use the ways

I know of doing duty;
I ask no greater joy than this

(So much I am life's lover,)
When I reach age to turn the page

And read the story over,

(Oh love stay near ! )

Oh rapturous promise of the Spring!

Oh June fulfilling after!
If Autumns sigh, when Summers die,

'Tis drowned in Winter's laughter.
Oh maiden dawns, oh wifely noons,

Oh siren sweet, sweet nights,

32 Coleiir de Rose,

Td want no heaven could earth be given
Again with its deh'ghts,
(If love stayed near ! )

There are such glories for the eye,

Such pleasures for the ear,
The senses reel with all they feel

And see and taste and hear;
There are such ways of doing good,

Such ways of being kind,
And bread that's cast on waters fast

Comes home again, I find.

(Oh love stay near.)

There are such royal souls to know.

There is so much to learn.
While secrets rest in Nature's breast

And unnamed stars still burn.
God toiled six days to make this earth,

I think the good folks say —
Six lives we need to give full meed

Coleiir de Rose, 33

Of praise — one for each day,
(If love stay near.)

But oh ! if love fled far away,

Or veiled his face from me,
One life too much, why then were such

A life as this would be.
With sullen May and blighted June

Blurred dawn and haggard night.
This dear old world in space were hurled

If love lent not his light.

(Oh love stay near.)


The quiet graves of our country's braves
Through thirty Junes and Decembers

Have solemnly lain under sun and rain,
And yet the Nation remembers.

The marching of feet and the flags on the street

Told once again this morning,
In the voice of the drum how the day had come

For those lowly beds' adorning.

Then swiftly back on Time's worn track
His three decades seemed driven,

And with startled eyes, I saw arise
From graves by fancy riven,

The Gray and the Blue in a grand review.
Oh, vast were the hosts they numbered :

Memorial Day — i8g2. 35

As they wheeled and swayed in a dress parade
O'er the graves where they long had slumbered.

The colors were not, as when they fought,

Ranked one against the other,
But a mingled hue of gray and blue,

As brother marching with brother.

And a blue flower lay on each coat of gray

Like forget-me-nots on a boulder,
And the gray moss lace in its Southern grace

Was knotted on each blue shoulder.

The vision fled, but I think our dead.
If they could come back with the living,

Would clasp warm hands o'er hostile lands,
Forgetting old wrongs and forgiving.

*Mong the blossoms of Spring that you gather
and bring
To graves that tho' lowly are royal,

36 Memorial Day — 18^2,

Let the blue flower prevail, though modest and
Since it speaks of the hue that was loyal.

But tie each bouquet with a ribbon of gray

And lay it on memory's altar,
For the dead who fought for the cause they

Was right, and who did not falter.


This game of life is a dangerous play,
Each human soul must watch alway,

From the first to the very last.
I care not however strong and pure —
Let no man say he is perfectly sure

The dangerous reefs are past.

For many a rock ma}^ lurk near by,

That never is seen when the tide is high —

Let no man dare to boast.
When the hand is full of trumps—beware,
For that is the time when thought and care

And nerve are needed most.

As the oldest jockey knows to his cost,
Full many a well-run race is lost

38 Life's Track.

A brief half length from the wire.

And many a soul that has fought with sin,

And gained each battle, at last gives in

To sudden, fierce desire.

And vain seems the effort of spur and whip,
Or the hoarse, hot cry of the pallid lip,

When once we have fallen back.
It is better to keep on stirrup and rein,
The steady poise and the careful strain

In speeding along Life's track.

A watchful eye and a strong, true hand
Will carry us under the Judge's stand,

If prayer, too, does its part.
And little by little the struggling soul
Will grow and strengthen and gain control

Over the passionate heart.


When from our mortal vision

Grown men and women go,
To sail strange fields Elysian

And know what spirits know,
I think of them as tourists,

In some sun-gilded clime,
'Mong happy sights and dear delights

We all shall find, in time.

But when a child goes yonder

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