Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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

What I Have Seen #4 - Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

I saw a youth, one of God's favored few,
Crowned with beauty, and talents, and health;
He had climbed the steep pathway, and cut his way through
To the summit of glory and wealth.
The day is breaking, hearts are waking,
Refreshed for the field of labor:
Arise, arise, like the king of the skies,
With a greeting for friend and neighbor.


He had toiled hard for the honors he'd won,
He had climbed over high rocks, forded streams;
Braved the bleak winter snow, the hot summer sun,
He was reaching the goal of his dreams.
The day hangs around us, the sun hath bound us
With fetters silken and yellow:
Flow, flow away, fleeting day,
Golden-hearted and mellow.


I saw the youth lift a mug to his mouth,
Drink the last drop of the fearful first glass!
Ah! his veins thrill in a fierce, scorching drouth,
He fills it again, again drinks it! alas!
The day is dying, hearts are sighing,
Crushed with a weight of sorrow:
Sleep, oh! sleep, in a slumber deep,
And wait for a bright to-morrow.


I saw him low in the dust at my feet,
Gone beauty, health, wealth, strength, talents, all;
From the summit of Fame to the slime of the street,
He had bartered his soul for the fiend Alcohol.
The night hangs o'er us, the wind's wild chorus
Shrieks like a demons' revel:
Weep, sob, weep, for the fog is deep,
And the world is sold to the devil.


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 2, 2010



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