Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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

Vanity Fair - Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

In Vanity Fair, as we bow and smile,
As we talk of the opera after the weather,
As we chat of fashion and fad and style,
We know we are playing a part together.
You know that the mirth she wears, she borrows;
She knows you laugh but to hide your sorrows;
We know that under the silks and laces,
And back of beautiful, beaming faces,
Lie secret trouble and grim despair,
In Vanity Fair.


In Vanity Fair, on dress parade,
Our colors look bright and our swords are gleaming;
But many a uniform's worn and frayed,
And most of the weapons, despite their seeming.
Are dull and blunted and badly battered,
And close inspection will show how tattered
And stained are the banners that float above us.
Our comrades hate, while they swear to love us;
And robed like Pleasure walks gaunt-eyed Care,
In Vanity Fair.


In Vanity Fair, as we strive for place,
As we rush and jostle and crowd and hurry,
We know the goal is not worth the race-
We know the prize is not worth the worry;
That all our gain means loss for another;
That in fighting for self we wound each other;
That the crown of success weighs hard and presse
The brow of the victor with thorns-not caresses;
That honors are empty and worthless to wear,
In Vanity Fair.


But in Vanity Fair, as we pass along,
We meet strong hearts that are worth the knowing;
'Mong poor paste jewels that deck the throng,
We see a solitaire sometimes glowing.
We find grand souls under robes of fashion,
'Neath light demeanors hide strength and passion;
And fair fine honor and Godlike resistance.
In halls of pleasure may have existence;
And we find pure altars and shrines of prayer,
In Vanity Fair.


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 2, 2010



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