THE MOTHER-IN-LAW

She was my dream's fulfilment and my joy,
   This lovely woman whom you call your wife,
You sported at your play, an idle boy,
   When I first felt the stirring of her life
Within my startled being. I was thrilled
With such intensity of love, it filled
The very universe! But words are vain--
No man can comprehend that wild, sweet pain.

You smiled in childhood's slumber while I felt
   The agonies of labour; and the nights
I, weeping, o'er the little sufferer knelt,
You, wandering on through dreamland's fair delights,
Flung out your lengthening limbs and slept and grew;
While I, awake, saved this dear wife for you.

She was my heart's loved idol and my pride.
   I taught her all those graces which you praise,
I dreamed of coming years, when at my side
   She would lend lustre to my fading days,
Should cling to me (as she to you clings now),
The young fruit hanging to the withered bough.
But lo! the blossom was so fair a sight,
You plucked it from me--for your own delight.

Well, you are worthy of her--oh, thank God--
   And yet I think you do not realise
How burning were the sands o'er which I trod,
   To bear and rear this woman you so prize.
It was no easy thing to see her go--
Even into the arms of the one she worshipped so.

How strong, how vast, how awful seems the power
   Of this new love which fills a maiden's heart,
For one who never bore a single hour
   Of pain for her; which tears her life apart
From all its moorings, and controls her more
Than all the ties the years have held before;
Which crowns a stranger with a kingly grace--
And gives the one who bore her--second place.

She loves me still! and yet, were Death to say,
   "Choose now between them!" you would be her choice.
God meant it to be so--it is His way.
   But can you wonder if, while I rejoice
In her content, this thought hurts like a knife--
"No longer necessary to her life!"

My pleasure in her joy is bitter sweet.
   Your very goodness sometimes hurts my heart,
Because, for her, life's drama seems complete
   Without the mother's oft-repeated part.
Be patient with me! She was mine so long
Who now is yours. One must indeed be strong,
   To meet the loss without the least regret.
And so, forgive me, if my eyes are wet.

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


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