Poems by Author

Wheeler Wilcox, Ella


I see the tall church steeples,
They reach so far, so far,
But the eyes of my heart see the world's great mart,
Where the starving people are.

I hear the church bells ringing
Their chimes on the morning air;
But my soul's sad ear is hurt to hear
The poor man's cry of despair.

Thicker and thicker the churches,
Nearer and nearer the sky
But alack for their creeds while the poor man's needs
Grow deeper as years roll by.

Wheeler Wilcox, Ella

The Creed to Be

Our thoughts are molding unmade spheres,
And, like a blessing or a curse,
They thunder down the formless years,
And ring throughout the universe.

We build our futures, by the shape
Of our desires, and not by acts.
There is no pathway of escape;
No priest-made creeds can alter facts.

Salvation is not begged or bought;
Too long this selfish hope sufficed;
Too long man reeked with lawless thought,
And leaned upon a tortured Christ.

Like shriveled leaves, these worn out creeds
Are dropping from Religion's tree;
The world begins to know its needs,
And souls are crying to be free.

Free from the load of fear and grief,
Man fashioned in an ignorant age;
Free from the ache of unbelief
He fled to in rebellious rage.

No church can bind him to the things
That fed the first crude souls, evolved;
For, mounting up on daring wings,
He questions mysteries all unsolved.

Above the chant of priests, above
The blatant voice of braying doubt,
He hears the still, small voice of Love,
Which sends its simple message out.

And clearer, sweeter, day by day,
Its mandate echoes from the skies,
"Go roll the stone of self away,
And let the Christ within thee rise.'

Wheeler Wilcox, Ella

Does It Pay

If one poor burdened toiler o'er life's road,
Who meets us by the way,
Goes on less conscious of his galling load,
Then life indeed, does pay.

If we can show one troubled heart the gain,
That lies alway in loss,
Why, then, we too, are paid for all the pain
Of bearing life's hard cross.

If some despondent soul to hope is stirred,
Some sad lip made to smile,
By any act of ours, or any word,
Then, life has been worth while.

Wheeler Wilcox, Ella

Wishing -- or Fate and I

Wise men tell me thou, O Fate,
Art invincible and great.

Well, I own thy prowess; still
Dare I flount thee, with my will.

Thou canst shatter in a span
All the earthly pride of man.

Outward things thou canst control
But stand back - I rule my soul!

Death? 'Tis such a little thing
Scarcely worth the mentioning.

What has death to do with me,
Save to set my spirit free?

Something in me dwells, O Fate,
That can rise and dominate.

Loss, and sorrow, and disaster,
How, then, Fate, art thou my master?

In the great primeval morn
My immortal will was born.

Part of the stupendous Cause
Which conceived the Solar Laws.

Lit the suns and filled the seas,
Royalest of pedigrees.

That great Cause was Love, the Source,
Who most loves has most of Force.

He who harbors hate one hour
Saps the soul of Peace and Power.

He who will not hate his foe
Need not dread life's hardest blow.

In the realm of brotherhood
Wishing no man aught but good.

Naught but good can come to me.
This is love's supreme decree.

Since I bar my door to hate,
What have I to fear, O Fate?

Since I fear not - Fate, I vow,
I the ruler am, not thou!

Wheeler Wilcox, Ella

Good-by to the Cradle

Good-by to the cradle, the dear wooden cradle,
The rude hand of Progress has thrust it aside:
No more to its motion, o'er Sleep's fairy ocean,
Our play-weary wayfarers peacefully glide;
No more by the rhythm of slow-moving rocker
Their sweet, dreamy fancies are fostered and fed;
No more to low singing the cradle goes swinging
The child of this era is put into bed!

Good-by to the cradle, the dear wooden cradle,
It lent to the twilight a mystical charm:
When bees left the clover, when playtime was over,
How safe seemed this shelter from danger and harm;
How soft seemed the pillow, how distant the ceiling,
How weird were the voices that whispered around;
What dreams would come flocking as, rocking and rocking,
We floated away into slumber profound.

Good-by to the cradle, the old wooden cradle,
The babe of the day does not know it by sight;
When day leaves the border, with system and order
The child goes to bed, and we put out the light.
I bow to Progression; and ask no concession,
Though strewn be her pathway with wrecks of the Past.
So off with old lumber, that sweet ark of slumber,
The dear wooden cradle, is ruthlessly cast.

Wheeler Wilcox, Ella

Here and Now

Here, in the heart of the world,
Here, in the noise and the din,
Here, where our spirits were hurled
To battle with sorrow and sin,
This is the place and the spot
For knowledge of infinite things;
This is the kingdom where Thought
Can conquer the prowess of kings.

Wait for no heavenly life,
Seek for no temple alone;
Here, in the midst of the strife,
Know what the sages have known.
See what the Perfect Ones saw
God in the depth of each soul,
God as the light and the law,
God as beginning and goal.

Earth is one chamber of Heaven,
Death is no grander than birth.
Joy in the life that was given,
Strive for perfection on earth.

Here, in the turmoil and roar,
Show what it is to be calm;
Show how the spirit can soar
And bring back its healing and balm.

Stand not aloof nor apart,
Plunge in the thick of the fight
. There in the street and the mart,
That is the place to do right.
Not in some cloister or cave,
Not in some kingdom above,
Here, on this side of the grave,
Here, should we labor and love.

Wheeler Wilcox, Ella

High Noon

Time's finger on the dial of my life
Points to high noon! and yet the half-spent day
Leaves less than half remaining, for the dark,
Bleak shadows of the grave engulf the end.
To those who burn the candle to the stick,
The sputtering socket yields but little light.
Long life is sadder than an early death.
We cannot count on raveled threads of age
Whereof to weave a fabric. We must use
The warp and woof the ready present yields
And toil while daylight lasts. When I bethink
How brief the past, the future still more brief,
Calls on to action, action! Not for me
Is time for retrospection or for dreams,
Not time for self-laudation or remorse.
Have I done nobly? Then I must not let
Dead yesterday unborn to-morrow shame.
Have I done wrong? Well, let the bitter taste
Of fruit that turned to ashes on my lip
Be my reminder in temptation's hour,
And keep me silent when I would condemn.
Sometimes it takes the acid of a sin
To cleanse the clouded windows of our souls
So pity may shine through them.

Looking back,
My faults and errors seem like stepping-stones
That led the way to knowledge of the truth
And made me value virtue; sorrows shine
In rainbow colors o'er the gulf of years,
Where lie forgotten pleasures.

Looking forth,
Out to the westers sky still bright with noon,
I feel well spurred and booted for the strife
That ends not till Nirvana is attained.
Battling with fate, with men and with myself,
Up the steep summit of my life's forenoon,
Three things I learned, three things of precious worth
To guide and help me down the western slope.
I have learned how to pray, and toil, and save.
To pray for courage to receive what comes,
Knowing what comes to be divinely sent.
To toil for universal good, since thus
And only thus can good come unto me.
To save, by giving whatsoe'er I have
To those who have not, this alone is gain.

Wheeler Wilcox, Ella

I Am

I know not whence I came,
I know not whither I go
But the fact stands clear that I am here
In this world of pleasure and woe.
And out of the mist and murk,
Another truth shines plain.
It is in my power each day and hour
To add to its joy or its pain.

I know that the earth exists,
It is none of my business why.
I cannot find out what it's all about,
I would but waste time to try.
My life is a brief, brief thing,
I am here for a little space.
And while I stay I would like, if I may,
To brighten and better the place.

The trouble, I think, with us all
Is the lack of a high conceit.
If each man thought he was sent to this spot
To make it a bit more sweet,
How soon we could gladden the world,
How easily right all wrong.
If nobody shirked, and each one worked
To help his fellows along.

Cease wondering why you came
Stop looking for faults and flaws.
Rise up to day in your pride and say,
"I am part of the First Great Cause!
However full the world
There is room for an earnest man.
It had need of me or I would not be,
I am here to strengthen the plan."

Wheeler Wilcox, Ella

If (Wheeler Wilcox))

Twixt what thou art, and what thou wouldst be, let
No "If" arise on which to lay the blame.
Man makes a mountain of that puny word,
But, like a blade of grass-before the scythe,
It falls and withers when a human will,
Stirred by creative force, sweeps toward its aim.

Thou wilt be what thou couldst be. Circumstance
Is but the toy of genius. When a soul
Burns with a god-like purpose to achieve,
All obstacles between it and its goal
Must vanish as the dew before the sun.

"If" is the motto of the dilettante
And idle dreamer; 'tis the poor excuse
Of mediocrity. The truly great
Know not the word, or know it but to scorn,
Else had Joan of Arc a peasant died,
Uncrowned by glory and by men unsung.

Wheeler Wilcox, Ella

Life's Harmonies

Let no man pray that he know not sorrow,
Let no soul ask to be free from pain,
For the gall of to-day is the sweet of to-morrow,
And the moment's loss is the lifetime's gain.

Through want of a thing does its worth redouble,
Through hunger's pangs does the feast content,
And only the heart that has harbored trouble,
Can fully rejoice when joy is sent.

Let no man shrink from the bitter tonics
Of grief, and yearning, and need, and strife,
For the rarest chords in the soul's harmonies,
Are found in the minor strains of life.

Wheeler Wilcox, Ella

The Meeting of Centuries

A curious vision, on mine eyes unfurled
In the deep night. I saw, or seemed to see,
Two Centuries meet, and sit down vis-a-vis,
Across the great round table of the world.
One with suggested sorrows in his mien
And on his brow the furrowed lines of thought.
And one whose glad expectant presence brought
A glow and radiance from the realms unseen.

Hand clasped with hand, in silence for a space,
The Centuries sat; the sad old eyes of one
(As grave paternal eyes regard a son)
Gazing upon that other eager face.
And then a voice, as cadenceless and gray
As the sea's monody in winter time,
Mingled with tones melodious, as the chime
Of bird choirs, singing in the dawns of May.


By you, Hope stands. With me, Experience walks.
Like a fair jewel in a faded box,
In my tear-rusted heart, sweet pity lies.
For all the dreams that look forth from your eyes,
And those bright-hued ambitions, which I know
Must fall like leaves and perish in Time's snow,
(Even as my soul's garden stands bereft,)
I give you pity! 'tis the one gift left.


Nay, nay, good friend! not pity, but Godspeed,
Here in the morning of my life I need.
Counsel, and not condolence; smiles, not tears,
To guide me through the channels of the years.
Oh, I am blinded by the blaze of light
That shines upon me from the Infinite.
Blurred is my vision by the close approach
To unseen shores, whereon the times encroach.


Illusion, all illusion. List and hear
The Godless cannons, booming far and near.
Flaunting the flag of Unbelief, with Greed
For pilot, lo! the pirate age in speed
Bears on to ruin. War's most hideous crimes

Wheeler Wilcox, Ella

Preaching vs. Practice

IT is easy to sit in the sunshine
And talk to the man in the shade;
It is easy to float in a well-trimmed boat,
And point out the places to wade.

But once we pass into the shadows,
We murmur and fret and frown,
And, our length from the bank, we shout for a plank,
Or throw up our hands and go down.

It is easy to sit in your carriage,
And counsel the man on foot,
But get down and walk, and you'll change your talk,
As you feel the peg in your boot.

It is easy to tell the toiler
How best he can carry his pack,
But no one can rate a burden's weight
Until it has been on his back.

The up-curled mouth of pleasure,
Can prate of sorrow's worth,
But give it a sip, and a wryer lip,
Was never made on earth.

Wheeler Wilcox, Ella

The Question

Beside us in our seeking after pleasures,
Through all our restless striving after fame,
Through all our search for worldly gains and treasures,
There walketh one whom no man likes to name.
Silent he follows, veiled of form and feature,
Indifferent if we sorrow or rejoice,
Yet that day comes when every living creature
Must look upon his face and hear his voice.

When that day comes to you, and Death, unmasking,
Shall bar your path, and say, "Behold the end,"
What are the questions that he will be asking
About your past? Have you considered, friend?
I think he will not chide you for your sinning,
Nor for your creeds or dogmas will he care;
He will but ask, "From your life's first beginning
How many burdens have you helped to bear?"

Wheeler Wilcox, Ella


Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow it's mirth,
But has trouble enough of it's own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air.
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go.
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all.
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life's gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.

Wheeler Wilcox, Ella

To Marry or Not to Marry? A Girl's Reverie

Mother says, "Be in no hurry,
Marriage oft means care and worry."

Auntie says, with manner grave,
"Wife is synonym for slave."

Father asks, in tones commanding,
"How does Bradstreet rate his standing?"

Sister, crooning to her twins,
Sighs, "With marriage care begins."

Grandma, near life's closing days,
Murmurs, "Sweet are girlhood's ways."

Maud, twice widowed ("sod and grass")
Looks at me and moans "Alas!"

They are six, and I am one,
Life for me has just begun.

They are older, calmer, wiser:
Age should aye be youth's adviser.

They must know---and yet, dear me,
When in Harry's eyes I see

All the world of love there burning
On my six advisers turning,

I make answer, "Oh, but Harry,
Is not like most men who marry.

"Fate has offered me a prize,
Life with love means Paradise.

"Life without it is not worth
All the foolish joys of earth."

So, in spite of all they say,
I shall name the wedding-day.

Wheeler Wilcox, Ella

Which Are You?

There are two kinds of people on earth to-day;
Just two kinds of people, no more, I say.

Not the sinner and saint, for it's well understood,
The good are half bad, and the bad are half good.

Not the rich and the poor, for to rate a man's wealth,
You must first know the state of his conscience and health.

Not the humble and proud, for in life's little span,
Who puts on vain airs, is not counted a man.

Not the happy and sad, for the swift flying years
Bring each man his laughter and each man his tears.

No; the two kinds of people on earth I mean,
Are the people who lift, and the people who lean.

Wherever you go, you will find the earth's masses,
Are always divided in just these two classes.

And oddly enough, you will find too, I ween,
There's only one lifter to twenty who lean.

In which class are you? Are you easing the load,
Of overtaxed lifters, who toil down the road?

Or are you a leaner, who lets others share
Your portion of labor, and worry and care?

Wheeler Wilcox, Ella

Past, The

I fling the past behind me, like a robe
Worn threadbare at the seams, and out of date.
I have outgrown it. Wherefore should I weep
And dwell upon its beauty, and its dyes
Of oriental splendor, or complain
That I must needs discard it? I can weave
Upon the shuttles of the future years
A fabric far more durable. Subdued,
It may be, in the blending of its hues,
Where somber shades commingle, yet the gleam
Of golden warp shall shoot it through and through,
While over all a fadeless luster lies,
And starred with gems made out of crystalled tears,
My new robe shall be richer than the old.

Wheeler Wilcox, Ella


I MUST do as you do? Your way I own
Is a very good way, and still,
There are sometimes two straight roads to a town,
One over, one under the hill.
You are treading the safe and the well-worn way,
That the prudent choose each time;
And you think me reckless and rash to-day
Because I prefer to climb.
Your path is the right one, and so is mine.
We are not like peas in a pod,
Compelled to lie in a certain line,
Or else be scattered abroad.
'T were a dull old world, me thinks, my friend,
If we all just went one way;
Yet our paths will meet no doubt at the end,
Though they lead apart today.
You like the shade, and I like the sun;
You like an even pace,
I like to mix with the crowd and run,
And then rest after the race.
I like danger, and storm, and strife,
You like a peaceful time;
I like the passion and surge of life,
You like its gentle rhyme.
You like buttercups, dewy sweet,
And crocuses, framed in snow;
I like roses, born of the heat,
And the red carnation's glow.
I must live my life, not yours, my friend,
For so it was written down;
We must follow our given paths to the end,
But I trust we shall meet--in town.

Wheeler Wilcox, Ella

If (Wilcox)

Dear love, if you and I could sail away, With snowy pennons to the wind unfurled, Across the waters of some unknown bay, And find some island far from all the world; If we could dwell there, ever more alone, While unrecorded years slip by apace, Forgetting and forgotten and unknown By aught save native song-birds of the place; If Winter never visited that land, And Summer's lap spilled o'er with fruits and flowers, And tropic trees cast shade on every hand, And twinèd boughs formed sleep-inviting bowers; If from the fashions of the world set free, And hid away from all its jealous strife, I lived alone for you, and you for me-- Ah! then, dear love, how sweet were wedded life. But since we dwell here in the crowded way, Where hurrying throungs rush by to seek for gold, And all is common-place and work-a-day, As soon as love's young honeymoon grows old: Since fashion rules and nature yields to art, And life is hurt by daily jar and fret, 'T is best to shut such dreams down in the heart And go our ways alone, love, and forget.