VOICES OF THE LIVING POETS
The poignancy of Mrs. Wilcox's poem in the
Cosmopolitan is enhanced by the knowledge that it comes out of a
heart smitten by the recent loss of a much-loved husband, after thirty-two
years of happy comradeship. We reprint a part of her poem, omitting the
first two stanzas.
BY ELLA WHEELER WILCOX.
SO many widows, widows, everywhere.
The whole earth teems with widows.
Guns that blare,
Winged monsters of the air,
And deep-sea monsters leaping through the water,
All these plow paths for widows. Maids at dawn
And brides at noon ere eventide pass on
Into the ranks of widows--but to weep
Just for a little space. Then will grief sleep
In their young bosoms, where sweet hope belongs ;
New love will sing once more its age-old songs,
And life bloom as a rose tree blooms again
After a night
There are complacent widows clothed in crape
Who simulates a grief that is not real.
Through paths of seeming sorrow they escape
From disappointed hopes to some ideal,
Or, from the penury of unloved wives,
Walk forth to
And there are widows who shed all their tears
Just at first,
In one wild
And then go lilting lightly down the years.
Black butterflies, they flit from flower to flower
And live in the thin pleasures of the hour,
Merging their tender memories of the dead
In tender dreams of being once more wed.
But there are others--women who have proved
That loving greatly means so being loved ;
Women who through full beauteous years have grown
Into the very body, soul, and heart
Of their dear comrades. When death tears apart
Such close-knit bonds as these, and one alone
Out to the larger freer life is called,
And one is left--
Then God in heaven must sometimes be appalled
At the wild anguish of the soul bereft,
And unto his Son must say, I did not know
But Christ, remembering Gethsemane,
Will answer softly, It was known to me.
God's alchemist, old Time, will merge to calm
That bitter anguish ; but there is no balm
Save the sweet certitude that each long day
Is one step
in a stair
That circles up to where freed spirits stay.
Widows, so many widows everywhere !
Current Opinion 63 (Aug. 1917): 122.
Courtesy of John M. Freiermuth.