THE LAW

Life is a Shylock; always it demands
    The fullest usurer's interest for each pleasure.
Gifts are not freely scattered by its hands:
    We make returns for every borrowed treasure.

Each talent, each achievement, and each gain
    Necessitates some penalty to pay.
Delight imposes lassitude and pain,
    As certainly as darkness follows day.

All you bestow on causes or on men,
    Of love or hate, of malice or devotion,
Somehow, sometime, shall be returned again---
    There is no wasted toil, no lost emotion.

The motto of the world is give and take.
    It gives you favours---out of sheer goodwill,
But unless speedy recompense you make,
    You'll find yourself presented with its bill.

When rapture comes to thrill the heart of you,
    Take it with tempered gratitude. Remember,
Some later time the interest will fall due,
    No year brings June that does not bring December.

Poetical works of Ella Wheeler Wilcox. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Edinburgh : W. P. Nimmo, Hay, & Mitchell, 1917.


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