Maurine and Other Poems
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Part 3 out of 3
A MARCH SNOW
Let the old snow be covered with the new:
The trampled snow, so soiled, and stained, and sodden.
Let it be hidden wholly from our view
By pure white flakes, all trackless and untrodden.
When Winter dies, low at the sweet Spring's feet,
Let him be mantled in a clean, white sheet.
Let the old life be covered by the new:
The old past life so full of sad mistakes,
Let it be wholly hidden from the view
By deeds as white and silent as snow-flakes.
Ere this earth life melts in the eternal Spring
Let the white mantle of repentance fling
Soft drapery about it, fold on fold,
Even as the new snow covers up the old.
At morn the wise man walked abroad,
Proud with the learning of great fools.
He laughed and said, "There is no God -
'Tis force creates, 'tis reason rules."
Meek with the wisdom of great faith,
At night he knelt while angels smiled,
And wept and cried with anguished breath,
"Jehovah, GOD, save Thou my child."
Last night I knelt low at my lady's feet.
One soft, caressing hand played with my hair,
And one I kissed and fondled. Kneeling there,
I deemed my meed of happiness complete.
She was so fair, so full of witching wiles -
Of fascinating tricks of mouth and eye;
So womanly withal, but not too shy -
And all my heaven was compassed by her smiles.
Her soft touch on my cheek and forehead sent,
Like little arrows, thrills of tenderness
Through all my frame. I trembled with excess
Of love, and sighed the sigh of great content.
When any mortal dares to so rejoice,
I think a jealous Heaven, bending low,
Reaches a stern hand forth and deals a blow.
Sweet through the dusk I heard my lady's voice.
"My love!" she sighed, "my Carlos!" even now
I feel the perfumed zephyr of her breath
Bearing to me those words of living death,
And starting out the cold drops on my brow.
For I am PAUL--not Carlos! Who is he
That, in the supreme hour of love's delight,
Veiled by the shadows of the falling night,
She should breathe low his name, forgetting me?
I will not ask her! 'twere a fruitless task,
For, woman-like, she would make me believe
Some well-told tale; and sigh, and seem to grieve,
And call me cruel. Nay, I will not ask.
But this man Carlos, whosoe'er he be,
Has turned my cup of nectar into gall,
Since I know he has claimed some one or all
Of these delights my lady grants to me.
He must have knelt and kissed her, in some sad
And tender twilight, when the day grew dim.
How else could I remind her so of him?
Why, reveries like these have made men mad!
He must have felt her soft hand on his brow.
If Heaven were shocked at such presumptuous wrongs,
And plunged him in the grave, where he belongs,
STILL SHE REMEMBERS, though she loves me now.
And if he lives, and meets me to his cost,
Why, what avails it? I must hear and see
That curst name "Carlos" always haunting me -
So has another Paradise been lost.
THE TWO GLASSES
There sat two glasses filled to the brim,
On a rich man's table, rim to rim.
One was ruddy and red as blood,
And one was clear as the crystal flood.
Said the glass of wine to his paler brother,
"Let us tell tales of the past to each other;
I can tell of a banquet, and revel, and mirth,
Where I was king, for I ruled in might;
For the proudest and grandest souls on earth
Fell under my touch, as though struck with blight.
From the heads of kings I have torn the crown;
From the heights of fame I have hurled men down.
I have blasted many an honoured name;
I have taken virtue and given shame;
I have tempted the youth with a sip, a taste,
That has made his future a barren waste.
Far greater than any king am I,
Or than any army beneath the sky.
I have made the arm of the driver fail,
And sent the train from the iron rail.
I have made good ships go down at sea,
And the shrieks of the lost were sweet to me.
Fame, strength, wealth, genius before me fall;
And my might and power are over all!
Ho, ho! pale brother," said the wine,
"Can you boast of deeds as great as mine?"
Said the water-glass: "I cannot boast
Of a king dethroned, or a murdered host,
But I can tell of hearts that were sad
By my crystal drops made bright and glad;
Of thirsts I have quenched, and brows I have laved;
Of hands I have cooled, and souls I have saved.
I have leapt through the valley, dashed down the mountain,
Slept in the sunshine, and dripped from the fountain.
I have burst my cloud-fetters, and dropped from the sky,
And everywhere gladdened the prospect and eye;
I have eased the hot forehead of fever and pain;
I have made the parched meadows grow fertile with grain.
I can tell of the powerful wheel of the mill,
That ground out the flour, and turned at my will.
I can tell of manhood debased by you,
That I have uplifted and crowned anew.
I cheer, I help, I strengthen and aid;
I gladden the heart of man and maid;
I set the wine-chained captive free,
And all are better for knowing me."
These are the tales they told each other,
The glass of wine and its paler brother,
As they sat together, filled to the brim,
On a rich man's table, rim to rim.
LA MORT D'AMOUR
When was it that love died? We were so fond,
So very fond a little while ago.
With leaping pulses, and blood all aglow,
We dreamed about a sweeter life beyond,
When we should dwell together as one heart,
And scarce could wait that happy time to come.
Now side by side we sit with lips quite dumb,
And feel ourselves a thousand miles apart.
How was it that love died? I do not know.
I only know that all its grace untold
Has faded into gray! I miss the gold
From our dull skies; but did not see it go.
Why should love die? We prized it, I am sure;
We thought of nothing else when it was ours;
We cherished it in smiling, sunlit bowers:
It was our all; why could it not endure?
Alas, we know not how, or when, or why
This dear thing died. We only know it went,
And left us dull, cold, and indifferent;
We who found heaven once in each other's sigh.
How pitiful it is, and yet how true
That half the lovers in the world, one day,
Look questioning in each other's eyes this way
And know love's gone forever, as we do.
Sometimes I cannot help but think, dear heart,
As I look out o'er all the wide, sad earth
And see love's flame gone out on many a hearth,
That those who would keep love must dwell apart.
(Vers de Societe)
We'll cover Love with roses,
And sweet sleep he shall take
None but a fool supposes
Love always keeps awake.
I've known loves without number -
True loves were they, and tried;
And just for want of slumber
They pined away and died.
Our love was bright and cheerful
A little while agone;
Now he is pale and tearful,
And--yes, I've seen him yawn.
So tired is he of kisses
That he can only weep;
The one dear thing he misses
And longs for now is sleep.
We could not let him leave us
One time, he was so dear,
But now it would not grieve us
If he slept half a year.
For he has had his season,
Like the lily and the rose,
And it but stands to reason
That he should want repose.
We prized the smiling Cupid
Who made our days so bright;
But he has grown so stupid
We gladly say good-night.
And if he wakens tender
And fond, and fair as when
He filled our lives with splendour,
We'll take him back again.
And should he never waken,
As that perchance may be,
We will not weep forsaken,
But sing, "Love, tra-la-lee!"
The highest culture is to speak no ill,
The best reformer is the man whose eyes
Are quick to see all beauty and all worth;
And by his own discreet, well-ordered life,
Alone reproves the erring.
When thy gaze
Turns in on thine own soul, be most severe.
But when it falls upon a fellow-man
Let kindliness control it; and refrain
From that belittling censure that springs forth
From common lips like weeds from marshy soil.
Oh, I am sick of love reciprocated,
Of hopes fulfilled, ambitions gratified.
Life holds no thing to be anticipated,
And I am sad from being satisfied.
The eager joy felt climbing up a mountain
Has left me now the highest point is gained.
The crystal spray that fell from Fame's fair fountain
Was sweeter than the waters were when drained.
The gilded apple which the world calls pleasure,
And which I purchased with my youth and strength,
Pleased me a moment. But the empty treasure
Lost all its lustre, and grew dim at length.
And love, all glowing with a golden glory,
Delighted me a season with its tale.
It pleased the longest, but at last the story,
So oft repeated, to my heart grew stale.
I lived for self, and all I asked was given,
I have had all, and now am sick of bliss,
No other punishment designed by Heaven
Could strike me half so forcibly as this.
I feel no sense of aught but enervation
In all the joys my selfish aims have brought,
And know no wish but for annihilation,
Since that would give me freedom from the thought
Oh, blest is he who has some aim defeated;
Some mighty loss to balance all his gain.
For him there is a hope not yet completed;
For him hath life yet draughts of joy and pain.
But cursed is he who has no balked ambition,
No hopeless hope, no loss beyond repair,
But sick and sated with complete fruition,
Keeps not the pleasure even of despair.
Alone she sat with her accusing heart,
That, like a restless comrade, frightened sleep,
And every thought that found her left a dart
That hurt her so, she could not even weep.
Her heart that once had been a cup well filled
With love's red wine, save for some drops of gall,
She knew was empty; though it had not spilled
Its sweets for one, but wasted them on all.
She stood upon the grave of her dead truth,
And saw her soul's bright armour red with rust,
And knew that all the riches of her youth
Were Dead Sea apples, crumbling into dust.
Love that had turned to bitter, biting scorn,
Hearthstones despoiled, and homes made desolate,
Made her cry out that she was ever born
To loathe her beauty and to curse her fate.
Dear love, if you and I could sail away,
With snowy pennons to the winds unfurled,
Across the waters of some unknown bay,
And find some island far from all the world;
If we could dwell there, ever more alone,
While unrecorded years slip by apace,
Forgetting and forgotten and unknown
By aught save native song-birds of the place;
If Winter never visited that land,
And Summer's lap spilled o'er with fruits and flowers,
And tropic trees cast shade on every hand,
And twined boughs formed sleep-inviting bowers;
If from the fashions of the world set free,
And hid away from all its jealous strife,
I lived alone for you, and you for me -
Ah! then, dear love, how sweet were wedded life.
But since we dwell here in the crowded way,
Where hurrying throngs rush by to seek for gold,
And all is commonplace and workaday,
As soon as love's young honeymoon grows old;
Since fashion rules and nature yields to art,
And life is hurt by daily jar and fret,
'Tis best to shut such dreams down in the heart
And go our ways alone, love, and forget.
Let us clear a little space,
And make Love a burial-place.
He is dead, dear, as you see,
And he wearies you and me.
Growing heavier, day by day,
Let us bury him, I say.
Wings of dead white butterflies,
These shall shroud him, as he lies
In his casket rich and rare,
Made of finest maiden-hair.
With the pollen of the rose
Let us his white eyelids close.
Put the rose thorn in his hand,
Shorn of leaves--you understand.
Let some holy water fall
On his dead face, tears of gall -
As we kneel by him and say,
"Dreams to dreams," and turn away.
Those gravediggers, Doubt, Distrust,
They will lower him to the dust.
Let us part here with a kiss -
You go that way, I go this.
Since we buried Love to-day
We will walk a separate way.
Now we must part, my Lippo. Even so,
I grieve to see thy sudden pained surprise;
Gaze not on me with such accusing eyes -
'Twas thine own hand which dealt dear
I loved thee fondly yesterday. Till then
Thy heart was like a covered golden cup
Always above my eager lip held up.
I fancied thou wert not as other men.
I knew that heart was filled with Love's sweet wine,
Pressed wholly for my drinking. And my lip
Grew parched with thirsting for one nectared sip
Of what, denied me, seemed a draught divine.
Last evening, in the gloaming, that cup spilled
Its precious contents. Even to the lees
Were offered to me, saying, "Drink of these!"
And, when I saw it empty, Love was killed.
No word was left unsaid, no act undone,
To prove to me thou wert my abject slave.
Ah! Love, hadst thou been wise enough to save
One little drop of that sweet wine--but one -
I still had loved thee, longing for it then.
But even the cup is mine. I look within,
And find it holds not one last drop to win,
And cast it down.--Thou art as other men.
"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!
LIFE IS LOVE
Is anyone sad in the world, I wonder?
Does anyone weep on a day like this,
With the sun above and the green earth under?
Why, what is life but a dream of bliss?
With the sun and the skies and the birds above me,
Birds that sing as they wheel and fly -
With the winds to follow and say they loved me -
Who could be lonely? O ho, not I!
Somebody said in the street this morning,
As I opened my window to let in the light,
That the darkest day of the world was dawning;
But I looked, and the East was a gorgeous sight
One who claims that he knows about it
Tells me the Earth is a vale of sin;
But I and the bees and the birds--we doubt it,
And think it a world worth living in.
Someone says that hearts are fickle,
That love is sorrow, that life is care,
And the reaper Death, with his shining sickle,
Gathers whatever is bright and fair.
I told the thrush, and we laughed together -
Laughed till the woods were all a-ring;
And he said to me, as he plumed each feather,
"Well, people must croak, if they cannot sing!"
Up he flew, but his song, remaining,
Rang like a bell in my heart all day,
And silenced the voices of weak complaining
That pipe like insects along the way.
O world of light, and O world of beauty!
Where are there pleasures so sweet as thine?
Yes, life is love, and love is duty;
And what heart sorrows? O no, not mine!
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