Treasure Island

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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

Widows


The world was widowed by the death of Christ:
Vainly its suffering soul for peace has sought
And found it not.
For nothing, nothing, nothing has sufficed
To bring back comfort to the stricken house
From whence has gone the Master and the Spouse.

In its long widowhood the world has striven
To find diversion. It has turned away
From the vast awefull silences of Heaven
(Which answer but with silence when we pray)
And sought for something to assuage its grief.
Some surcease and relief
From sorrow, in pursuit of mortal joys.
It drowned God's stillness in a sea of noise;
It lost God's presence in a blur of forms;
Till, bruised and bleeding with life's brutal storms,
Unto immutable and speechless space
The World lifts up its face,
Its haggard, tear-drenched face,
And cries aloud for faith's supreme reward,
The promised Second Coming of its Lord.
So many widows, widows everywhere,
The whole earth teems with widows.
Guns that blare-
Winged monsters of the air-
And deep-sea monsters leaping through the water,
Hell bent on slaughter,
All these plough paths for widows. Maids at dawn,
And brides at noon, ere eventide pass on
Into the ranks of widows: but to weep
Just for a little space; then will grief sleep
In their young bosoms, where sweet hope belongs,
New love will sing once more its age-old songs,
And life bloom as a rose-tree blooms again
After a night of rain.
There are complacent widows clothed in crêpe
Who simulate a grief that is not real.
Through paths of seeming sorrow they escape
From disappointed hopes to some ideal,
Or, from the penury of unloved wives
Walk forth to opulent lives.
And there are widows who shed all their tears
Just at the first
In one wild burst,
And then go lilting lightly down the years:
Black butterflies, they flit from flower to flower
And live in the thin pleasures of the hour;
Merging their tender memories of the dead
In tenderer dreams of being once more wed.


But there are others: women who have proved
That loving greatly means so being loved.
Women who through full beauteous years have grown
Into the very body, souls, and heart
Of their dear comrades. When death tears apart
Such close-knit bonds as these, and one alone
Out to the larger freer life is called,
And one is left-
Then God in heaven must sometimes be appalled
At the wild anguish of the soul bereft,
And unto His Son must say, 'I did not know
Mortals could suffer so.'
But Christ, remembering Gethsemane,
Will answer softly, 'It was known to Me.'
God's alchemist, old Time, will merge to calm
That bitter anguish; but there is no balm
Save the sweet certitude that each long day
Is one step in a stair
That circles up to where freed spirits stay.


Widows, so many widows everywhere.

The world was widowed by the death of Christ,
And nothing, nothing, nothing has sufficed
To bring back comfort to the stricken house
From whence has gone the Master and the Spouse.
Hasten, dear Lord, with Thy Millennium,
Hasten and come.

Submitted: Friday, April 02, 2010

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