A harsh and homely monosyllable,
Abrupt and musicless, and at its best
An inartistic object to the eye,
Yet in this brief and troubled life of man
How full of majesty the part it plays!
It is the cradle which receives the soul,
Naked and wailing, from the Maker's hand.
It is the throne of Love's enlightenment;
And when death offers back to God again
The borrowed spirit, this the holy shrine
From which the hills delectable are seen.
Through all the anxious journey to that goal
It is man's friend, physician, comforter.
When labor wearies, and when pleasure palls,
And the tired heart lets faith slip from its grasp,
'Tis here new courage and new strength are found,
While doubt and darkness change to hope and light.
It is the common ground between two spheres
Where man and angels meet and converse hold.
It is the confidant of hidden woe
Masked from the world beneath a smiling brow.
Into its silent breast young wakeful joy
Whispers its secret through the starlit hours,
And, like a white-robed priestess, oft it hears
The wild confession of a crime-stained soul
That looks unflinching in the eyes of men.
A common word, a thing unbeautiful,
Yet in this brief, eventful life of man
How large and varied is the part it plays!

World Voices by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
New York : Hearst's International Library Company 1916.

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