Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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

The Foolish Elm - Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

The bold young Autumn came riding along
One day where an elm-tree grew.
'You are fair,' he said, as she bent down her head,
'Too fair for your robe's dull hue.
You are far too young for a garb so old;
Your beauty needs color and sheen.
Oh, I would clothe you in scarlet and gold
Befitting the grace of a queen.


'For one little kiss on your lips, sweet elm,
For one little kiss, no more,
I would give you, I swear, a robe more fair
Than ever a princess wore.
One little kiss on those lips, my pet,
And lo! you shall stand, I say,
Queen of the forest, and, better yet,
Queen of my heart alway.'


She tossed her head, but he took the kiss-
'Tis the way of lovers bold-
And a gorgeous dress for that sweet caress
He gave ere the morning was old.
For a week and a day she ruled a queen
In beauty and splendid attire;
For a week and a day she was loved, I ween,
With the love that is born of desire.


Then bold-eyed Autumn went on his way
In search of a tree more fair;
And mob winds tattered her garments and scattered
Her finery here and there.
Poor and faded and ragged and cold
She rocked in her wild distress,
And longed for the dull green gown she had sold
For her fickle lover's caress.


And the days went by and Winter came,
And his tyrannous tempests beat
On the shivering tree, whose robes of flame
He had trampled under his feet.
I saw her reach up to the mocking skies
Her poor arms, bare and thin;
Ah, well-a-day! it is ever the way
With a woman who trades with sin.


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 2, 2010



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