I have been down in the darkest water--
    Deep, deep down where no light could pierce;
Alone with the things that are bent on slaughter,
    The mindless things that are cruel and fierce.
I have fought with fear in my wave-walled prison,
    And begged for the beautiful boon of death;
But out of the billows my soul has risen
    To glorify God with my latest breath.

There is no potion I have not tasted
    Of all the bitters in life's large store;
And never a drop of the gall was wasted
    That the lords of Karma saw fit to pour,
Though I cried as my Elder Brother before me,
    "Father in heaven, let pass this cup!"
And the only response from the still skies o'er me
    Was the brew held close for my lips to sup.

Yet I have grown strong on the gall Elysian,
    And a courage has come that all things dares;
And I have been given an inner vision
    Of the wonderful world where my dear one fares;
And I have had word from the great Hereafter--
    A marvellous message that throbs with truth,
And mournful weeping has changed to laughter,
    And grief has changed into the joy of youth.

Oh! there was a time when I supped sweet potions,
    And lightly uttered profound belief,
Before I went down in the swirling oceans
    And fought with madness and doubt and grief.
Now I am climbing the Hills of Knowledge,
    And I speak unfearing, and say "I know,"
Though it be not to church, or to book, or college,
    But to God Himself that my debt I owe.

For the ceaseless prayer of a soul is heeded,
    When the prayer asks only for light and faith;
And the faith and the light and the knowledge needed
    Shall gild with glory the path to death.
Oh! heart of the world by sorrow shaken,
    Hear ye the message I have to give:
The seal from the lips of the dead is taken,
    And they can say to you, "Lo! we live."

Hello, Boys! by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
London: Gay and Hancock, 1919.

Back to Poem Index