She looked at her neighbor's house in the light of the waning day--
A shower of rice on the steps and the shreds of a bride's bouquet.
And then she drew the shade, to shut out the growing gloom,
But she shut it into her heart instead. (Was that a voice in the room?)
"My neighbour is sad," she sighed, "like the mother bird who sees
The last of her brood fly out of the nest to make its home in the trees"--
And then in a passion of tears--"But, oh, to be sad like her;
Sad for a joy that has come and gone!" (Did some one speak, or stir?)
She looked at her faded hands, all burdened with costly rings;
She looked on her widowed home, all burdened with priceless things.
She thought of the dead years gone, of the empty years ahead--
(Yes, something stirred and something spake, and this was what it said:)
"The voice of the Might Have Been speaks here through the lonely
Life offered the fruits of love; you gathered only the husk.
There are jewels ablaze on your breast where never a child has slept."
She covered her face with her ringed old hands, and wept, and wept, and wept.
World Voices by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
New York : Hearst"s International Library Company 1916.
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