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Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

The Engine

Into the gloom of the deep, dark night,
    With panting breath and a startled scream;
Swift as a bird in sudden flight,
    Darts this creature of steel and steam.

Awful dangers are lurking nigh,
    Rocks and chasms are near the track,
But straight by the light of its great white eye,
    It speeds through the shadows, dense and black.

Terrible thoughts and fierce desires
    Trouble its mad heart many an hour,
Where burn and smoulder the hidden fires,
    Coupled ever with might and power.

It hates, as a wild horse hates the rein,
    The narrow track by vale and hill:
And shrieks with a cry of startled pain;
    And longs to follow its own wild will.

O, what am I but an engine, shod
    With muscle and flesh, by the hand of God,
Speeding on through the dense, dark night,
    Guided alone by the soul's white light.

Often and often my mad heart tires,
    And hates its way with a bitter hate,
And longs to follow its own desires,
    And leave the end in the hands of fate.

O mighty engine of steel and steam;
    O human engine of blood and bone,
Follow the white light's certain beam---
    There lies safety, and there alone.

The narrow track of fearless truth,
    Lit by the soul's great eye of light,
O passionate heart of restless youth,
    Alone will carry you through the night. 

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)

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