GRIEF

As the funeral train with its honored dead
    On its mournful way went sweeping,
While a sorrowful nation bowed its head
    And the whole world joined in weeping,
I thought, as I looked on the solemn sight,
    Of the one fond heart despairing,
And I said to myself, as in truth I might,
    "How sad must be this sharing."

To share the living with even Fame,
    For a heart that is only human,
Is hard, when Glory asserts her claim
    Like a bold, insistent woman;
Yet a great, grand passion can put aside
    Or stay each selfish emotion,
And watch, with a pleasure that springs from pride,
    Its rival--the world's devotion.

But Death should render to love its own,
    And my heart bowed down and sorrowed
For the stricken woman who wept alone
    While even her dead was borrowed;
Borrowed from her, the bride--the wife--
    For the world's last martial honor,
As she sat in the gloom of her darkened life,
    With her widow's grief fresh upon her.

He had shed the glory of Love and Fame
    In a golden halo about her;
She had shared his triumphs and worn his name:
    But, alas! he had died without her.
He had wandered in many a distant realm,
    And never had left her behind him;
But now, with a spectral shape at the helm,
    He had sailed where she could not find him.

It was only a thought, that came that day
    In the midst of the muffled drumming
And funeral music and sad display,
    That I knew was right and becoming;
Only a thought as the mourning train
    Moved, column after column,
Bearing the dead to the burial plain
    With a reverence grand as solemn.

Poems of Power by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago : W. B. Conkey, 1902.


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