Ella Wheeler Wilcox has been writing for many years,
but she has done her best poetical work in the last five
years. Her touch was never so sure as it has been I that
time and her inspiration never before so genuine. Her
popularity has extended of late to England and four of
her books, we understand, are now in process of publication
there. The following poem, from The National Magazine,
is not one of her best, but it has real vitality in it.


               By ELLA WHEELER WILCOX.

Alone I climb the steep ascending path
Which leads to knowledge. In the babbling throngs
That hurry after, shouting to the world
Small fragments of large truths, there is not one
Who comprehends my purpose, or who sees
The ultimate great goal. Why even she,
My heaven-intended spouse, my other self,
Religion, turns her beauteous face on me
With hatred in her eyes, where love should dwell.
While those who call me Master, blindly run,
Wounding the ear of Faith with blasphemies,
And making useless slaughter, in my name.
Mine is the difficult, slow task to blaze
A road of Facts, through labyrinths of dreams.
To tear down Maybe and establish IS .
And substitute I Know for I Believe.
I follow closely where the seers have led ;
But that intangible dim path of theirs,
Which may be trodden but by other seers,
I seek to render solid for the feet
Of all mankind. With reverent hands I lift
The mask from Mystery ; and show the face
Of Reason, smiling bravely on the world.
The visions of the prophets, one by one,
Grew visible beneath my tireless touch ;
And the white secrets of elusive stars
I tell aloud, to listening multitudes.
To fit the better world my toil insures,
Time will impregnate with a better race
The Future's womb ; and when the hour is ripe
To ready eyes of men, the alien spheres
Shall seem as friendly neighbours ; and my skill
Shall make their music audible to ears
Which will be tuned to those high harmonies.
Mine is the work to fashion step by step
The shining Way that leads from man to God.
Tho I demolish obstacles of creeds,
And blast tradition from the face of earth,
My hand shall open wide the door of Truth,
Whose other name is Faith ; and at the end
Of this most holy labour, I shall turn
To see Religion with enlightened eyes
Seeking the welcome of my outstretched arms,
While all the world stands hushed, and awed before
The proven splendour of the Fact Supreme.

Current Opinion  54 (Jan. 1913): 68.

Courtesy of John M. Freiermuth.

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