When on the crowded thoroughfare,
   Amidst the motley throng I stray,
In all the stranger faces there,
   I meet and pass from day to day,
Whether the face be young, or old,
Or wreathed in smiles, or calm, or cold,
On every brow I trace some line
That links the strangers' heart to mine.

Though a proud beauty rustles by,
   With haughty mien, I smile and say,
"You have a heart-ache--so have I:
   We both are hiding it to-day.
Though you are rich, I am poor,
We both have entered sorrow's door;
Grief comes alike to you and me,
So we are of one family."

The richest nabob that I meet,
   The poorest delver that I see,
Youth and old age upon the street,
   Are one and all the same to me.
No heart that beats, but has its grief;
Nor wealth, nor youth, gives full relief;
And through the tears that sometimes fall
I claim relationship to all.

So poor, and rich, and high, and low,
   I meet upon this common plain.
Though far and wide our paths may lie,
   We entertain the same guest--Pain.
The subtle threads of this strange cord,
Draw me to mankind, and the Lord,
And through the sorrows heaven sends,
I hold all men to be my friends.


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

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