Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward

(1844-1911 / Andover, Massachusetts)

Congratulation - Poem by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward

You told the story of your love;
I heard as one who did not hear;
Across the opening lips of hope
Crept the slow finger of a fear.

Against the kind deceit which hides
From love's beginning all love's end,
In thoughtful mood I boldly lift
The honest trouble of a friend.

You 've chosen thus: not thus, indeed,
I would have chosen fate for you,
And if you missed the possible
And for the sweet had lost the true;

If 'neath the perfect palm of love
You might have knelt,-in kneeling, blest,-
And if you chose instead to wear
A little rose upon your breast;

If, for the tidal wave of life
Mistook a little ripple blue,
While fathoms deep below your line
The sea's lost treasures sleep for you;

Why, then, what then? You 've only missed
A wealth your calm eyes never saw.
Be fate and nature kind to you,
Yourself unto yourself your law!

No Moses ever part for you
The wonders of the deep's rich gloom!
Nor ever lead, the dry sands o'er,
Into the long-lost palm-land's bloom!

Ah! never, never may you know,
For little waves trip merrily;
And never, never may you know,
For sweet the little roses be.

And should my doubts and dreams be both
Blindfold, as dreams and doubts may be;
Should love's unwisdom truer prove
To you than my wise fears to me;

Since God's own purpose over ours
Is folded softly like a wing,
And love's best knowledge to love's self
Must own, I know not anything!

Why then-ah! then. Go you his ways,
Not mine. His is the summer sea,
On which the little waves shall trip;
And his the little roses be.

But if into one lot there came
(As into one I haply knew)
The flower's scent, the forest's strength,
The depth's reserve, the ripple's hue;

If it fell out to Heaven's mind
To give one both the sweet and true,-
Though Heaven asked it back again,-
That lost lot I 'd not change with you.

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, September 7, 2010

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