THROUGH rivers of veins on the nameless quest
    The tide of my heart goes hurriedly sweeping,
Till it reaches that curious wheel o' the breast,
The human heart, which is never at rest.
    Faster, faster, it cries, and leaping,
    Plunging, dashing, speeding away.

The wheel and the river work night and day.
I know not wherefore, I know not whither
    This strange tide rushes with such mad force ;
It glides on hither, it slides on thither,
    Over and over the selfsame course,
    With never an outlet and never a source ;
And it lashes itself to the beat of passion
And whirls the heart in mill-wheel fashion.

I can hear in the hush of the still, still night,
    The ceaseless sound of that mighty river ;
I can hear it gushing, gurgling, rushing,
    With a wild, delirious strange delight,
And a conscious pride in its sense of might,
    As it hurries and worries my heart forever.

And I wonder oft as I lie awake,
    And list to the river that seethes and surges,
    Over the wheel that it chides and urges--
I wonder oft if that wheel will break
    With the mighty pressure it bears, some day,
    Or slowly and wearily wear away.

For little by little the heart is wearing,
    Like the wheel of the mill, as the tide goes tearing
And plunging through my quiet breast,
And a network of veins on a nameless quest,
    From and forth into unknown oceans,
    Bringing its cargoes of fierce emotions,
With never a pause or an hour for rest.

                   ELLA WHEELER WILCOX.

The Evening Bulletin [Philadelphia] 7 May 1905:7.

Courtesy of John M. Freiermuth.

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