The poignancy of Mrs. Wilcox's poem in the Cosmopolitan is enhanced by the knowledge that it comes out of a heart smitten by the recent loss of a much-loved husband, after thirty-two years of happy comradeship. We reprint a part of her poem, omitting the first two stanzas.



SO many widows, widows, everywhere.
    The whole earth teems with widows.
 Guns that blare,
    Winged monsters of the air,
 And deep-sea monsters leaping through the water,
          Hell-bent on slaughter--
 All these plow paths for widows. Maids at dawn
 And brides at noon ere eventide pass on
 Into the ranks of widows--but to weep
 Just for a little space. Then will grief sleep
 In their young bosoms, where sweet hope belongs ;
 New love will sing once more its age-old songs,
 And life bloom as a rose tree blooms again
          After a night of rain.
There are complacent widows clothed in crape
    Who simulates a grief that is not real.
 Through paths of seeming sorrow they escape
    From disappointed hopes to some ideal,
 Or, from the penury of unloved wives,
          Walk forth to opulent lives.
 And there are widows who shed all their tears
          Just at first,
          In one wild burst,
 And then go lilting lightly down the years.
 Black butterflies, they flit from flower to flower
 And live in the thin pleasures of the hour,
 Merging their tender memories of the dead
 In tender dreams of being once more wed.
 But there are others--women who have proved
 That loving greatly means so being loved ;
    Women who through full beauteous years have grown
 Into the very body, soul, and heart
 Of their dear comrades. When death tears apart
    Such close-knit bonds as these, and one alone
 Out to the larger freer life is called,
          And one is left--
 Then God in heaven must sometimes be appalled
    At the wild anguish of the soul bereft,
 And unto his Son must say, I did not know
          Mortals could suffer so.
 But Christ, remembering Gethsemane,
 Will answer softly, It was known to me.
God's alchemist, old Time, will merge to calm
 That bitter anguish ; but there is no balm
 Save the sweet certitude that each long day
          Is one step in a stair
 That circles up to where freed spirits stay.
Widows, so many widows everywhere !

Current Opinion 63 (Aug. 1917): 122.

Courtesy of John M. Freiermuth.

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