MYSELF.

I was not meant for this cold land.
I am a part, of some far foreign clime,
Where gorgeous-plumaged birds do flit
Among the tropic blooms, or sit
And drink the sun, and pour it out in songs.
There, there my soul belongs.
By some pre-natal error, I became
A dweller here, and shall be for all time.
So I have taught my heart to understand
And bear with this land's moods of ice of snow.
Yet me it doth not know.
And when my soul athirst for warmth and light
Sets my ripe Southern nature all aflame,
The bleak wind seems to howl out words of blame,
Because I do not revel in its night
Of endless winter, but am all aglow
With life and color.--Me it doth not know.
I am not like the people of this land.
They are so pale, so stately and so cold.
They are made out of snow, and I of fire.
They know no intense longing or desire.
Yet I have taught my heart to understand
Their little feelings: and have tuned my lyre
And sung their songs for them: and told
Their woes and sorrows, so they seemed my own--
While foreign to all I have felt or known.
And yet among them all, there is no man,
And not one woman, who knows me; or can
Make least allowance, if for one small hour
My heart blooms out like some great tropic flower--
Ignores their dull, pale, soulless hues, and speaks
Its orient thoughts and feelings on my cheeks.
I live not like the people of this land.
They live for gold, for narrow aims, for fashion,
They hate, they envy, and they dwell in strife.
My soul is steeped in color and in passion.
I love all incense, beauty, light, and heat;
Without them life to me is incomplete.
I am so full of love I cannot hate,
But I love not those forms and airs of state.
Yet I have taught my heart to understand
These ways and manners, to adopt this life
In all externals lest I do displease.
But let me vary from their narrow laws
One least iota, and not one of these
Can overlook it.  Like so many daws
They pick at me in anger and dismay.
I understand and pity them, but they
Can never comprehend me.
                                        Be it so!
But had I wings, how swiftly I would go
To that far island, where I do belong,
And pour my soul out in impassioned song,
And stretch my limbs in freedom 'neath the trees,
And listen to the ever lulling breeze,
And revel in the seas of gorgeous bloom,
My couch in life, in death my peaceful tomb.

Maurine by Ella Wheeler
Milwaukee: Cramer, Aikens & Cramer, 1876.


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