The world has outlived all its passion;
Its men are inane and blasé,
Its women mere puppets of fashion;
Life now is a comedy play.
Our Abelard sighs for a season,
Then yields with decorum to Fate;
Our Heloïse listens to reason,--
And seeks a new mate.
Our Romeo's flippant emotion
Grows pale as the summer grows old,
Our Juliet proves her devotion
By clasping--a cup filled with gold.
Vain Antony boasts of love's favors
From fair Cleopatra the frail,
And the death of the sorceress savors
Less of asps than of ale.
With the march of bold civilization
Great loves and great faiths are down-trod;
They belonged to an era and nation
All fresh with the imprint of God.
High culture emasculates feeling;
The overtaught brain robs the heart;
And the shrine now where mortals are kneeling
Is a commonplace mart.
By the lady-like minds of our mothers
We are taught that to feel is "bad form;"
Our effeminate fathers and brothers
Keep carefully out of life's storm;
Our worshippers now, and our lovers,
Are calmly devout--with their brains;
And we laugh at the man who discovers
Warm blood in his veins.
* * * * * * * *
But you, O twin souls, passion-mated,
Who love as the gods loved of old,
What blundering destiny fated
Your lives to be cast in this mould?
Like a lurid volcanic upheaval
In pastures prosaic and gray
You seem, with your fervors primeval,
Among us to-day.
You dropped from some planet of splendor,
Perhaps, as it circled afar,
And your constancy swerveless and tender
You learned from the course of that star.
Fly back to its bosom, I warn you,
As back to the ark flew the dove:
The minions of earth will but scorn you
Because you can love!
By Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
Lippincott's Monthly Magazine 39 (Jan./June 1887): 484.
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