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Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox


I wandered oer the vast green plains of youth, 
And searched for Pleasure. On a distant height
Fames silhouette stood sharp against the skies.
Beyond vast crowds that thronged a broad highway
I caught the glimmer of a golden goal, 
While from a blooming bower smiled siren Love.

Straight gazing in her eyes, I laughed at Love, 
With all the haughty insolence of youth, 
As past her bower I strode to seek my goal.
Now will I climb to glorys dizzy height,
I said,  for there above the common way
Doth pleasure dwell companioned by the skies.

But when I reached that summit near the skies, 
So far from man I seemed, so far from Love-
Not here,  I cried, doth Pleasure find her way,
Seen from the distant borderland of youth.
Fame smiles upon us from her sun-kissed height, 
But frowns in shadows when we reach the goal. 

Then were mine eyes fixed on that glittering goal, 
Dear to all sense-sunk souls beneath the skies.
Gold tempts the artist from the lofty height, 
Gold lures the maiden from the arms of Love, 
Gold buys the fresh ingenuous heart of youth, 
And gold,  I said, will show me Pleasures way.

But ah! the soil and discord of that way, 
Where savage hordes rushed headlong to the goal, 
Dead to the best impulses of their youth, 
Blind to the azure beauty of the skies; 
Dulled to the voice of conscience and of love, 
They wandered far from Truths eternal height.

Then Truth spoke to me from that noble height, 
Saying: Thou didst pass Pleasure on the way, 
She with the yearning eyes so full of Love, 
Whom thou disdained to seek for glorys goal.
Two blending paths beneath Gods arching skies
Lead straight to Pleasure. Ah, blind heart of youth, 
Not up fames height, not toward the base gods goal, 
Doth Pleasure make her way, but neath calm skies
Where Duty walks with Love in endless youth.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Ella Wheeler Wilcox's other poems:
  1. The Birth of the Opal
  2. At Forty-Eight
  3. Artist and Man
  4. As by Fire
  5. But a Dream

Poems of the other poets with the same name:

  • Algernon Swinburne Sestina ("I saw my soul at rest upon a day")
  • Elizabeth Bishop Sestina ("September rain falls on the house")

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