TWO LIVES

An infant lies in her cradle bed:
   The hands of sleep, on her eyelids fall.
The moments pass, with a noiseless tread,
   And the clock on the mantle counts them all.
The infant wakes, with a wailing cry,
But she does not heed, how her life slips by.

A child is sporting, in careless play:
   She rivals the birds with her mellow song:
The clock, unheeded, ticks away,
   And counts the moments that drift along.
But the child is chasing the butterfly,
And she does not heed how her life drifts by.

A maiden stands at her lover's side,
   In the tender light of the setting sun.
Onward and onward the moments glide,
   And the old clock counts them, one by one.
But the maiden's bridal is drawing nigh,
And she does not heed how her life drifts by.

A song of her youth the matron sings,
   And she dreameth a dream, and her eye is wet.
And backward and forward the pendlum swings,
   In the clock that never has rested yet.
And the matron smothers a half-drawn sigh,
As she thinks how her life is drifting by.

An old crone sits in her easy chair;
   Her head is dropped on her aged breast.
The clock on the mantle ticketh there--
   The clock that is longing now for rest.
And the old crone smiles, as the moments fly,
   And thinks how her life is drifting by.

A shrouded form, in a coffin bed-
   A waiting grave, in the fallow ground:
The moments pass with a noiseless tread,
   But the clock on the mantle makes no sound.
The lives of the two have gone for ay,
And they do not heed, how the time drifts by.

1869

Shells by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Milwaukee: Hauser & Storey, 1873.


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