When fierce temptations lure the brave and strong
To wander into ways they know are wrong,
The Lords of Wisdom (God's high Cabinet)
Commune together, saying with regret,
'Great natures by great sins are oft beset;
Through suffering they shall their lesson learn,
And wiser, back to nobler lives return.'

But Angels feel a deeper sorrow when
The weak unfocused wills of unworthy men,
Like weather-vanes, turn, on each wayward breeze
Some selfish, peevish woman's whim to please.

Have you not seen the husband or the son,
Bound by the ties of law or blood to one
Of those self-centred creatures, losing sight
Of his fine sense of justice and of right--
That sense God gives to lead the race to light?
Forced all against the instincts of his heart
In petty bickerings to take a part,
Or driven by whining words and stabs and stings
To show approval of ignoble things.
His high ideals of honour overthrown
By lower aims of 'standing by his own,'
However wrong or foolish or unkind
His own might be?
                                        Such women drag and bind
The better nature of a man, and blind
His eyes to visions of the Christ within.

A larger hope shines for a larger sin
Through sorrow or repentance, soon or late.
But these anæmic souls disintegrate.

The weather-vane, when winds have ceased to blow,
Rots on the roof-tree, lacking strength to go
Or here, or there, or upward, or below.

Strong thoughts build heavens and hells; and from the fire--
The self-created flames of wrong desire--
Repentant souls rise up to regions higher.

But he whose will is by another slain
Has built no heaven to which he can attain.

Poems of affection. By Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
London: Gay & Hancock, 1920.

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