Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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

The Little White Hearse Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox


Somebody’s baby was buried to-day –
The empty white hearse from the grave rumbled back,
And the morning somehow seemed less smiling and gay
As I paused on the sidewalk while it crossed on its way,
And a shadow seemed drawn o’er the sun’s golden track.

Somebody’s baby was laid out to rest,
White as a snowdrop, and fair to behold,
And the soft little hands were crossed over the breast,
And those hands and the lips and the eyelids were pressed
With kisses as hot as the eyelids were cold.

Somebody saw it go out of her sight,
Under the coffin lid – out through the door;
Somebody finds only darkness and blight
All through the glory of summer-sun light;
Somebody’s baby will waken no more.

Somebody’s sorrow is making me weep:
I know not her name, but I echo her cry,
For the dearly bought baby she longed so to keep,
The baby that rode to its long-lasting sleep
In the little white hearse that went rumbling by.

I know not her name, but her sorrow I know;
While I paused on the crossing I lived it once more,
And back to my heart surged that river of woe
That but in the breast of a mother can flow;
For the little white hearse has been, too, at my door.

Submitted: Saturday, May 31, 2003

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