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Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox


Like a thorn in the flesh, like a fly in the mesh,
   Like a boat that is chained to shore,
The wild unrest of the heart in my breast
   Tortures me more and more.
I wot not why, it should wail and cry
   Like a child that is lost at night,
For it knew no grief, but has found relief,
   And it is not touched with blight.

It has had of pleasure full many a measure;
   It has thrilled with loves red wine;
It has hope and health, and youths rare wealth--
   Oh rich is this heart of mine.
Yet it is not glad--it is wild and mad
   Like a billow before it breaks;
And its ceaseless pain is worse than vain,
   Since it knows not why it aches.

It longs to be, like the waves of the sea
   That rise in their might and beat
And dash and lunge, and hurry and plunge,
   And die at the grey rocks feet.
It wearies of life and it sickens of strife
   And yet it tires of rest.
Oh! I know not why it should ache and cry--
   Tis a troublesome heart at best.

Though not understood, I think it a good
   And God-like discontent.
It springs from the soul that longs for its goal--
   For the source from which it was sent.
Then surge, O breast, with thy wild unrest--
   Cry, heart, like a child at night,
Till the mystic shore of the Evermore
   Shall dawn on thy eager sight.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Ella Wheeler Wilcox's other poems:
  1. The Birth of the Opal
  2. At Forty-Eight
  3. As by Fire
  4. But a Dream
  5. The Call (All wantonly in hours of joy)

Poems of the other poets with the same name:

  • Elizabeth Barrett-Browning Discontent ("LIGHT human nature is too lightly tost")
  • Sarah Jewett Discontent ("Down in a field, one day in June")

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