The sweetest songs that were ever sung,
   And those that please the best,
Though sorrow, and grief, and tears were wrung
   From some o'er-burdened breast.
Through the words breathe only of mirth, and bloom,
   And the strains are the gladdest and lightest,
Remember that after a night of gloom,
   The rays of the sun are brightest.

The rain must fall, ere the spring-time grass
   Grows tender, and green, and sweet.
Through the pangs of travail a soul must pass,
   Ere a song is born complete.
After a winter of storm, and snow,
   Blossom the buds in our bowers:
After a season of tears and woe,
   Blossom the poet's flowers.

There are few who give the poet a thought,
   When they read the pleasing strain.
There are few who know that a poem is wrought
   Through sorrow, and tears, and pain.
The merriest song, and the blithest lay,
   And those that are sweetest and gladdest,
Are woven in gloomy and cheerless days,
   When the poet's heart is the saddest.

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

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