An infant wailing in nameless fear;
A shadow, perchance in the quiet room,
Or the hum of an insect flying near,
Or the screech-owl's cry, in the outer gloom.
A little child on the sun-checked floor,
A broken toy, and a tear stained face,
A young life clouded, a young heart sore;
And the great clock, time, ticks on apace.
A maiden weeping in bitter pain,
Two white hands clasped on an aching brow.
A blighted faith and a fond hope slain,
A shattered trust and a broken vow.
A matron holding a baby's shoe,
The hot tears gather, and fall at will
On the knotted ribbon of white and blue,
For the foot that wore it is cold and still.
An aged woman upon her bed,
Worn, and wearied, and poor and old,
Longing to rest with the happy dead,
And thus the story of life is told.
Where is the season of careless glee?
Where is the moment that holds no pain?
Life has its crosses from infancy
Down to the grave; and its hopes are vain.
Shells by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Milwaukee: Hauser & Storey, 1873.
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