Ella Wheeler Wilcox (5 November 1850 - 30 October 1919 / Johnstown Center / Rock County / Wisconsin)
In The Cup
There is grief in the cup!
I saw a proud mother set wine on the board;
The eyes of her son sparkled bright as she poured
The ruddy stream into the glass in his hand.
The cup was of silver; the lady was grand
In her satins and laces; her proud heart was glad
In the love of her fair, noble son; but, oh! sad,
Oh! so sad ere a year had passed by,
And the soft light had gone from her beautiful eye.
For the boy that she loved, with a love strong as death,
In the chill hours of morn with a drunkard's foul breath
And a drunkard's fierce oath, reeled and staggered his way
To his home, a dark blot on the face of the day.
There is shame in the cup!
The tempter said, 'Drink,' and a fair maiden quaffed
Till her cheeks glowed the hue of the dangerous draught.
The voice of the tempter spoke low in her ear
Words that once would have started the quick, angry tear,
But wine blunts the conscience, and wine dulls the brain,
She listened and smiled, and he whispered again.
He lifted the goblet: 'Once more,' he said, 'drink,'
And the soul of the maiden was lost in the brink.
There is death in the cup!
A man in God's image, strong, noble, and grand,
With talents that crowned him a prince of the land,
Sipped the ruddy red wine!-sipped it lightly at first,
Until from its chains broke the demon of thirst.
And thirst became master, and man became slave,
And he ended his life in the drunkard's poor grave.
Wealth, fame, talents, beauty, and life swallowed up,
Grief, shame, death, destruction, are all in the cup.
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