Ella Wheeler Wilcox (5 November 1850 - 30 October 1919 / Johnstown Center / Rock County / Wisconsin)
The danger of war, with its havoc of life,
The danger of ocean, when storms are rife,
The danger of jungles, where wild beasts hide,
The danger that lies in the mountain slide---
Why, what are they but all mere child's play,
Or the idle sport of a summer day,
Beside those battles that stir and vex
The world forever, of sex with sex?
The warrior returns from the captured fort,
The mariner sails to a peaceful port;
The wild beast quails 'neath the strong man's eye,
The avalanche passes the traveller by---
But who can rescue from passion's pyre
The hearts that were offered to feed its fire?
Ah! he who emerges from that fierce flame
Is scarred with sorrow or blackened with shame.
Battle and billow, and beast of prey,
They only threaten the mortal clay;
The soul unfettered can take to wing,
But the danger of love is another thing.
Once under the tyrant Passion's control,
He crushes body, and heart, and soul.
An hour of rapture, an age of despair,
Ah! these are the trophies of love's warfare.
And yet forever, since time began,
Has man dared woman and woman lured man
To that sweet danger that lurks and lies
In the bloodless battle of eyes with eyes;
That reckless danger, as vast as sweet,
Whose bitter ending is joy's defeat.
Ah! thus forever, while time shall last,
On passion's altar must hearts be cast!
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