THE UNDERTONE

When I was very young I used to feel the dark despair of youth;
Out of my little griefs I would invent great tragedies and woes;
Not only for myself, but for all those I held most dear
I would invent vast sorrows in my melancholy moods of thought.
Yet down deep, deep in my heart there was an undertone of rapture.
It was like a voice from some other world calling softly to me,
Saying things joyful.

As I grew older, and Life offered bitter gall for me to drink,
Forcing it through clenched teeth when I refused to take it willingly;
When Pain prepared some special anguish for my heart to bear,
And all the things I longed for seemed to be wholly beyond my reach--
Yet down deep, deep in my heart there was an undertone of rapture.
It was like a Voice, a Voice from some other world calling to me,
Bringing glad tidings.

Now when I look about me, and see the great injustices of men,
See Idleness and Greed waited upon by luxury and mirth,
See prosperous Vice ride by in state, while footsore Virtue walks;
Now when I hear the cry of need rise up from lands of shameful wealth--
Yet down deep, deep in my heart there is an undertone of rapture.
It is like a Voice--it is a Voice--calling to me and saying:
'Love rules triumphant.'

Now when each mile-post on the path of life seems marked by headstones,
And one by one dear faces that I loved are hid away from sight;
Now when in each familiar home I see a vacant chair,
And in the throngs once formed of friends I meet unrecognising eyes--
Yet down deep, deep in my heart there is an undertone of rapture.
It is the Voice, it is the Voice for ever saying unto me:
'Life is Eternal.'

Poems of Problems. By Ella Wheeler Wilcox
London : Gay and Hancock, 1914.


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