Oh! when I think in what a thorny way
The feet of men must ever walk and stray,
I do not wonder that so many fall,
But wonder more that any stand at all.

I look around me, and on every hand
I see the palaces of destruction stand
Like whited sepulchres: some seem to be
All white and clean, and pure as purity.

I see a path of flowers, blooming fair,
But, oh! a dark abyss is hidden there.
I see a serpent lurking in the grass
Where manly feet will all unheeding pass.

I see the maiden with the beaming eye,
She lightly laughs and lifts the wine-glass high,
And says the while her red lips sip and taste,
"A fig for temperance; wine is too good to waste."

It is so hard for men to walk within
The narrow path that leads away from sin;
So hard to keep unto the better way,
Even with woman's hand to guide alway;

But when she scorns and jeers the noble strife,
And turns them from the higher, better life,
And leads them downward with her own fair hand,
Oh! can we wonder that they do not stand?

Alas! my sisters, I can only pray,
May God forgive you on the judgment-day;
"Where is thy brother, where?" the Master saith,
And you, like Cain, must answer for his death.

Drops of Water: Poems by Ella Wheeler
New York : The National Temperance Society and Publication House, 1872.

Back to Poem Index