When I am dead, if some chastened one,
Seeing the "item," or hearing it said
That my play is over, and my part done,
And I lie asleep in my narrow bed---
If I could know that some soul would say,
Speaking aloud or silently,
"In the heat and burden of the day,
She gave a refreshing draught to me;"
Or, "when I was lying nigh unto death,
She nursed me to life, and to strength again,
And when I labored and struggled for breath
She soothed and quieted down my pain;"
Or, "when I was groping in grief and doubt,
Lost, and turned from the light o' the day,
Her hand reached me and helped me out,
And led me up to the better way;"
Or, "when I was hated and shunned by all,
Bowing under my sin and my shame,
She, once, in passing me by, let fall
Words of pity and hope that came
Into my heart, like a blessed calm
Over the waves of the stormy sea,
Words of comfort like oil and balm,
She spake, and the desert blossomed for me;"
Better, by far, than a marble tomb---
Than a monument towering over my head;
(What shall I care, in my quiet room,
For head board or foot board when I am dead)
Better than glory, or honors, or fame,
(Though I am striving for those to-day)
To know that some heart will cherish my name,
And think of me kindly, with blessings, alway.
Shells. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Milwaukee:Hauser & Storey, 1873.
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