I said I would have my fling,
   And do what a young man may:
And I didn't believe a thing
   That the parsons have to say.
I didn't believe in a God
   That gives us blood like fire,
Then flings us into hell because
   We answer the call of desire.

And I said: 'Religion is rot,
   And the laws of the world are nil;
For the bad man is he who is caught
   And cannot foot his bill.
And there is no place called hell;
   And heaven is only a truth
When a man has his way with a maid,
   In the fresh keen hour of youth.

And money can buy us grace,
   If it rings on the plate of the church:
And money can neatly erase
   Each sign of a sinful smirch.'

For I saw men everywhere,
   Hotfooting the road of vice;
And women and preachers smiled on them
   As long as they paid the price.

So I had my joy of life:
   I went the pace of the town;
And then I took me a wife,
   And started to settle down.
I had gold enough and to spare
   For all of the simple joys
That belong with a house and a home
   And a brood of girls and boys.

I married a girl with health
   And virtue and spotless fame.
I gave in exchange my wealth
   And a proud old family name.
And I gave her the love of a heart
   Grown sated and sick of sin!
My deal with the devil was all cleaned up,
   And the last bill handed in.

She was going to bring me a child,
   And when in labour she cried
With love and fear I was wild---
   But now I wish she had died.
For the son she bore me was blind
   And crippled and weak and sore!
And his mother was left a wreck.
   It was so she settled my score.

I said I must have my fling,
   And they knew the path I would go;
Yet no one told me a thing
   Of what I needed to know.
Folks talk too much of a soul
   From heavenly joys debarred---
And not enough of the babes unborn,
   By the sins of their fathers scarred.

Poems of Problems by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
Chicago : W. B. Conkey Company, 1914.

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