Ella Wheeler Wilcox (5 November 1850 - 30 October 1919 / Johnstown Center / Rock County / Wisconsin)
The Wheel of the Breast
Through rivers of veins on the nameless quest
The tide of my life goes hurriedly sweeping,
Till it reaches that curious wheel o' the breast,
The human heart, which is never at rest.
Faster, faster, it cries, and leaping,
Plunging, dashing, speeding away,
The wheel and the river work night and day.
I know not wherefore, I know not whither,
This strange tide rushes with such mad force:
It glides on hither, it slides on thither,
Over and over the selfsame course,
With never an outlet and never a source;
And it lashes itself to the heat of passion
And whirls the heart in a mill-wheel fashion.
I can hear in the hush of the still, still night,
The ceaseless sound of that mighty river;
I can hear it gushing, gurgling, rushing,
With a wild, delirious, strange delight,
And a conscious pride in its sense of might,
As it hurries and worries my heart forever.
And I wonder oft as I lie awake,
And list to the river that seethes and surges
Over the wheel that it chides and urges—
I wonder oft if that wheel will break
With the mighty pressure it bears, some day,
Or slowly and wearily wear away.
For little by little the heart is wearing,
Like the wheel of the mill, as the tide goes tearing
And plunging hurriedly through my breast,
In a network of veins on a nameless quet,
From and forth, unto unknown oceans,
Bringing its cargoes of fierce emotions,
With never a pause or an hour for rest.
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