I cried, Dear Angel, lead me to the heights,
    And spur me to the top.
    The Angel answered, Stop
And set thy house in order; make it fair
For absent ones who may be speeding there.
    Then will we talk of heights.

I put my house in order. Now lead on!
    The Angel said, Not yet;
    Thy garden is beset
By thorns and tares; go weed it, so all those
Who come to gaze may find the unvexed rose;
    Then will we journey on.

I weeded well my garden. All is done.
    The Angel shook his head.
    A beggar stands, he said,
Outside thy gates; till thou hast given heed
And soothed his sorrow, and supplied his need,
    Say not that all is done.

The beggar left me singing. Now at last
    At last the path is clear.
    Nay, there is one draws near
Who seeks like thee, the difficult highway.
He lacks thy courage; cheer him thro the day.
    Then will we cry, At last!

I helped my weaker brother. Now the heights
    Oh guide me, Angel, guide!
    The Presence at my side,
With radiant face, said, Look, where are we now?
And lo! we stood upon the mountain's brow
    The heights, the shining heights!

                           Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

The Evening Bulletin [Philadelphia] 28 Oct. 1905: 7.

Courtesy of John M. Freiermuth.

Back to Poem Index