A WAIF

My soul is like a poor caged bird to-night,
    Beating its wings against the prison bars,
Longing to reach the outer world of light,
    And, all untrammelled, soar among the stars.
Wild, mighty thoughts struggle within my soul
For utterance. Great waves of passion roll
 
Through all my being. As the lightnings play
Through thunder clouds, so beams of blinding light
Flash for a moment on my darkened brain---
Quick, sudden, glaring beams, that fade away
And leave me in a darker, deeper night.

Oh, poet souls! that struggle all in vain
    To live in peace and harmony with earth,
It cannot be! They must endure the pain
    Of conscience and of unacknowledged worth,
Moving and dwelling with the common herd,
    Whose highest thought has never strayed as far,
    Or never strayed beyond the horizon's bar;
Whose narrow hearts and souls are never stirred
    With keenest pleasures, or with sharpest pain;
    Who rise and eat and sleep, and rise again,
Nor question why or wherefore. Men whose minds
Are never shaken by wild passion winds;

Women whose broadest, deepest realm of thought
The bridal veil will cover.
                                        Who see not
God's mighty work lying undone to-day,---
Work that a woman's hands can do as well,
Oh, soul of mine; better to live alway
In this tumultuous inward pain and strife,
    Doing the work that in thy reach doth fall,
    Weeping because thou canst not do it all;
Oh, better, my soul, in this unrest to dwell,
Than grovel as they grovel on through life.

Poetical works of Ella Wheeler Wilcox. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Edinburgh : W. P. Nimmo, Hay, & Mitchell, 1917.


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