HIS LAST LETTER

Well, you are free;
  The longed-for, lied-for, waited-for decree
     Is yours to-day.
I made no protest--and you had your say,
   And left me with no vestige of repute.
"Neglect, abuse, and cruelty" you charge,
 With broken marriage-vows. The list was large,
   But not to be denied. So I was mute.

Now you shall listen to a few plain facts
   Before you go out wholly from my life
   As some man's wife.
Read carefully this statement of your acts
   Which changed the luster of my honeymoon
   To somber gloom,
And wrenched the cover from Pandora's box.

In those first talks
   'Twixt bride and groom, I showed you my whole heart,
Showed you how deep my love was and how true;
With all a strong man's feeling I loved you.
(God, how I loved you, my own chosen mate!)
      But I learned this
   (So poorly did you play your little part):
You married marriage--to avoid the fate
      Of having "Miss"
Carved on your tombstone. Love you did not know;
   But you were greedy for the showy things
   That money brings.
Such weak affection as you could bestow
   Was given the provider, not the lover.

The knowledge hurt. Keen pain like that is dumb
   And masks itself in smiles, lest men discover.
      But I was lonely, and the feeling grew,
      The more I studied you.
Into your shallow heart love could not come;
   But yet you loved my love, because it gave
   The prowess of a mistress o'er a slave.
You showed your power
In petty tyranny, hour after hour,
   Day after day, year after lengthening year.
My tasks, my pleasures, my pursuits were not
   Held near or dear,
Or made to seem important in your thought.
   My friends were not your friends; you goaded me
   By foolish and ignoble jealousy.
Till, through suggestion's laws,
I gave you cause.
   The beauteous ideal love had hung
In my soul's shrine,
And worshiped as a something all divine,
   With wanton hand you flung
Into the dust. And then you wondered why
My love should die.

My sins and derelictions cry aloud
To all the world. My head is bowed
   Under its merited reproaches. Yours
Is lifted to receive
   The sympathy the court's decree insures.
The world loves to believe
   In Man's depravity and Woman's worth;
   But I am one of many men on earth
   Whose loud, resounding fall
   Is like the crashing of some well-built wall,
   Which those who seek can trace
   To the slow work of insects at its base.

   Be not afraid;
   The alimony will be promptly paid.

By Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Cosmopolitan 58 (May 1915): 624-625.


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