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Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox


The Actor


Oh, man, with your wonderful dower,
    Oh, woman, with genius and grace,
You can teach the whole world with your power,
    If you are but worthy the place.
The stage is a force and a factor
    In moulding the thought of the day,
If only the heart of the actor
    Is high as the theme of the play.

No discourse or sermon can reach us
    Through feeling to reason like you;
No author can stir us and teach us
    With lessons as subtle and true.
Your words and your gestures obeying,
    We weep or rejoice with your part,
And the player, behind all his playing,
    He ought to be great as his art.

No matter what rôle you are giving,
    No matter what skill you betray,
The everyday life you are living,
    Is certain to colour the play.
The thoughts we call secret and hidden
    Are creatures of malice, in fact;
They steal forth unseen and unbidden,
    And permeate motive and act.

The genius that shines like a comet
    Fills only one part of God's plan,
If the lesson the world derives from it
    Is marred by the life of the man.
Be worthy your work if you love it;
    The king should be fit for the crown;
Stand high as your art, or above it,
    And make us look up and not down. 



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:

  • Robert Service The Actor ("Enthusiastic was the crowd")

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