Stedman, Edmund Clarence, ed.
A Library of American Literature from the earliest settlement to the present time.
New York: Webster, 1889-90.
v. 10, p. 336-337.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Born in Johnstown, Wis.

[Maurine, and Other Poems, 1882. -- Poems of Passion, 1883.]

     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.

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
   Weep, and you weep alone,
For the sad old earth must borrow it's 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 long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
   Through the narrow aisles of pain.

   There is no chance, no destiny, no fate,
      Can circumvent or hinder or control
      The firm resolve of a determined soul.
   Gifts count for nothing; will alone is great;
   All things give way before it, soon or late.
      What obstacle can stay the mighty force
      Of the sea-seeking river in its course,
   Or cause the ascending orb of day to wait?
   Each well-born soul must win what it deserves.
   Let the fool prate of luck. The fortunate
      Is he whose earnest purpose never swerves,
      Whose slightest action or inaction serves
   The one great aim.
                                 Why, even Death stands still,
   And waits an hour sometimes for such a will.