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.
From wall and niche, nude nymph beguiled
Fair goddesses of world-wide fame,
But Psyche's self was put to shame
By one who from the cushions smiled.
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.
Custer and other poems by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
W. B. Conkey Company Chicago, Ill. (1896)
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