Ella Wheeler Wilcox

(5 November 1850 - 30 October 1919 / Johnstown Center / Rock County / Wisconsin)

Compensations - Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

I: BLIND

When first the shadows fell, like prison bars,
And darkness spread before me, like a pall,
I cried out for the sun, the earth, the stars,
And beat the air, as madmen beat a wall,
Till, impotent, and broken with despair,
I turned my vision inward. Lo, a spark-
A light-a torch; and all my world grew bright;
For God's dear eyes were shining through the dark.
Then, bringing to me gifts of recompense,
Came keener hearing, finer taste, and touch;
And that oft unappreciated sense,
Which finds sweet odours, and proclaims them such;
And not until my mortal eyes were blind
Did I perceive how kind the world, how kind.


II: DEAF

I can recall a time, when on mine ears
There fell chaotic sounds of earthly life,
Shrill cries of triumph, and hoarse shouts of strife;
A medley of despairs, and hopes and fears.
Then silence came, and unavailing tears.
The stillness stabbed me, like a two edged-knife;
Until I found the Universe was rife
With subtle music of the neighbouring spheres.
Such harmonies, such congruous sweet chords,
Wherein each note conveys a healing balm.
And now no more I miss men's spoken words;
For, in a quiet world of larger thought,
I know the joy that comes from being calm.


III: SHUT-IN

Across my window glass
The moving shadows of the people pass.
Sometimes the shadows pause; and through the hall
Kind neighbours come to call,
Bringing a word or smile
To cheer my loneliness a little while.
But as I hear them talk,
These people who can walk
And go about the great green earth at will,
I wonder if they know the joy of being still,
And all alone with thoughts that soar afar-
High as the highest star.
And oft I feel more free
Than those who travel over land and sea.
For one who is shut in,
Away from all the outer strife and din,
With faithful Pain for guide,
Finds where Great Truths abide.


Across my window glass
The moving shadows pass.
But swifter moves my unimpeded thought,
Speeding from spot to spot-
Out and afar-
High as the highest star.


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 2, 2010



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