Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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

The Barbarous Chief - Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

There was a kingdom known as the Mind,
A kingdom vast as fair,
And the brave king, Brain, had the right to reign,
In royal splendor there.
Oh! that was a beautiful, beautiful land,
Which unto this king was given;
Filled with everything good and grand,
And it reached from earth to heaven.

But a savage monster came one day
From over a distant border;
He warred with the king and disputed his sway,
And set the whole land in disorder.
He mounted the throne, which he made his own,
He sunk the kingdom in grief.
There was trouble and shame from the hour he came-
Illtemper, the barbarous chief.


He threw down the castles of love and peace,
He burned up the altars of prayers.
He trod down the grain that was planted by Brain,
And scattered thistles and tares.
He wasted the store-house of knowledge and drove
Queen Wisdom away in fright;
And a terrible gloom, like the cloud of doom,
Shrouded that land in night.


Bent on more havoc away he rushed
To the neighboring kingdom, Heart;
And the blossoms of kindness and hope he crushed-
And patience he pierced with his dart,
And he even went on to the Isthmus Soul,
That unites the mind with God,
And its beautiful bowers of fragrant flowers
With a ruthless heel he trod.


To you is given this wonderful land
Where the lordly Brain has sway;
But the border ruffian is near at hand,
Be on your guard, I pray.
Beware of Illtemper, the barbarous chief,
He is cruel as vice or sin,
And your beautiful kingdom will come to grief
If once you let him in.


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 2, 2010



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