A SUCCESSFUL MAN

There was a man who killed a loving maid
In some mad mood of passion; and he paid
The price, upon a scaffold. Now his name
Stands only as a synonym for shame.
There was another man, who took to wife
A loving woman. She was full of life,
Of hope, and aspirations; and her pride
Clothed her like some rich mantle.

                                        First, the wide
Glad stream of life that through her veins had sway
He dammed by rocks, cast in it, day by day.
Her flag of hope, flung gaily to the world,
He placed half mast, and then hauled down, and furled.
The aspirations, breathing in each word,
By subtle ridicule, were made absurd:
The delicate fine mantle of her pride,
With rude unfeeling hands, was wrenched aside:
And by mean avarice, or vulgar show,
Her quivering woman's heart was made to know
That she was but a chattel, bought to fill
Whatever niche might please the buyer's will.

So she was murdered, while the slow years went.
And her assassin, honoured, opulent,
Lived with no punishment, or social ban!
'A good provider, a successful man.'

Poems of Optimism. By Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
London: Gay & Hancock, 1915.


Back to Poem Index