SHE waited in a rose-hued room;
   A wanton hearted creature she,
   But beautiful and bright to see
As some great orchid just in bloom.

Upon wide cushions stretched at ease
   She lolled in garments filmy fine,
   Which but enhanced each rounded line--
A living picture, framed to please.

A bold electric eye of light
   Leered through its ruddy screen of lace,
   And feasted on her form and face
As some wine crimsoned roué might.

Exotic blossoms from a vase
   Their sweet narcotic breath exhaled.
   The lights, the objects round her paled
She lost the sense of time and place.

She seemed to float upon the air,
   Untrammeled, unrestricted, free;
   And rising from a vapory sea,
She saw a form divinely fair;

A beauteous being in whose face
   Shone all things sweet and true and good,
   The innocence of maidenhood,
The motherhood of all the race,

The warmth which comes from heavenly fire,
   The strength which leads the weaker man
   To climb to God's Eternal plan,
And conquer and control desire.

She shook as with a mighty awe;
   For gazing on this shape which stood
   Embodying all true womanhood,
She knew it was herself she saw.

She woke as from a dream. But when
   The laughing lover, light and bold,
   Came with his talk of wine and gold,
He gazed, grew silent, gazed again,

Then turned abashed from those calm eyes
   Where lurked no more the lure to sin.
   Her higher self had entered in;
Her path led now to Paradise.

By Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Munsey's Magazine 15 (August, 1896):553-554.

Back to Poem Index