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Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Before and After

Before I lost my love, he said to me:
   Sweetheart, I like deep azure tints on you.
But I, perverse as any girl will be
   Who has too many lovers, wore not blue.

He said, I love to see my ladys hair
   Coiled low like Clyties--with no wanton curl.
But I, like any silly, wilful girl,
   Said, Donald likes it high, and wore it there.

He said, I wish, love, when you sing to me,
   You would sing sweet, sad things--they suit your voice.
I tossed my head, and sung light strains of glee--
   Saying, This song, or that, is Harolds choice.

But now I wear no colour--none but blue.
   Low in my neck I coil my silken hair.
He does not know it, but I strive to do
   Whatever in his eyes would make me fair.

I sing no songs but those he loved the best.
   (Ah! well, no wonder: for the mournful strain
Is but the echo of the voice of pain,
   That sings so mournfully within my breast.)

I would not wear a ribbon or a curl
   For Donald, if he died from my neglect--
Oh me! how many a vain and wilful girl
   Learns true loves worth, but--when her life is wrecked.

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

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