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Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox


As the funeral train with its honoured dead
   On its mournful way went sweeping,
While a sorrowful nation bowed its head
   And the whole world joined in weeping,
I thought, as I looked on the solemn sight,
   Of the one fond heart despairing,
And I said to myself, as in truth I might,
   How sad must be this sharing.

To share the living with even Fame,
   For a heart that is only human,
Is hard, when Glory asserts her claim
   Like a bold, insistent woman;
Yet a great, grand passion can put aside
   Or stay each selfish emotion,
And watch, with a pleasure that springs from pride,
   Its rival-the worlds devotion.

But Death should render to love its own,
   And my heart bowed down and sorrowed
For the stricken woman who wept alone
   While even her dead was borrowed;
Borrowed from her, the bride-the wife-
   For the worlds last martial honour,
As she sat in the gloom of her darkened life,
   With her widows grief fresh upon her.

He had shed the glory of Love and Fame
   In a golden halo about her;
She had shared his triumphs and worn his name:
   But, alas! he had died without her.
He had wandered in many a distant realm,
   And never had left her behind him,
But now, with a spectral shape at the helm,
   He had sailed where she could not find him.

It was only a thought, that came that day
   In the midst of the muffled drumming
And funeral music and sad display,
   That I knew was right and becoming
Only a thought as the mourning train
   Moved, column after column,
Bearing the dead to the burial plain
   With a reverence grand as solemn.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Ella Wheeler Wilcox's other poems:
  1. The Birth of the Opal
  2. At Eleusis
  3. But a Dream
  4. The Call (All wantonly in hours of joy)
  5. The Awakening (I love the tropics, where sun and rain)

Poems of the other poets with the same name:

  • Elizabeth Barrett-Browning Grief ("I TELL you, hopeless grief is passionless") 1815
  • George Herbert Grief ("O who will give me tears? Come, all ye springs")

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