I value most, and most praise God for three:
Want, Loneliness, and Pain, those comrades true,
Who masqueraded in the garb of foes
For many a year, and filled my heart with dread.
Yet fickle joys, like false, pretentious friends,
Have proved less worthy than this trio. First,
Want taught me labour, led me up the steep
And toilsome paths to hills of pure delight,
Tried only by the feet that know fatigue,
And yet press on until the heights appear.
Then loneliness and hunger of the heart
Sent me upreaching to the realms of space,
Till all the silences grew eloquent,
And all their loving forces hailed me friend.
Last, pain taught prayer! placed in my hand the staff
Of close communion with the over-soul,
That I might lean upon it to the end,
And find myself made strong for any strife.
And then these three who had pursued my steps
Like stern, relentless foes, year after year,
Unmasked, and turned their faces full on me,
And lo! they were divinely beautiful,
For through them shown the lustrous eyes of Love. —Ella Wheeler Wilcox