Poetry Saturday—Thanksgiving

We walk on story fields of white
And do not see the daisies, 
For blessings common in our sight 
We rarely offer praises. 
We sigh for some supreme delight 
To crown our lives with splendor, 
And quite ignore our daily store 
Of pleasures sweet and tender.

Our cares are bold and push their way 
Upon our thought and feeling; 
They hang about us all the day, 
Our time from pleasure stealing. 
So unobtrusive many a joy 
We pass by and forget it, 
But worry strives to own our lives, 
And conquers if we let it.

There’s not a day in all the year 
But holds some hidden pleasure, 
And, looking back, joys oft appear 
To brim the past’s wide measure. 
But blessings are like friends, I hold, 
Who love and labor near us. 
We ought to raise our notes of praise 
While living hearts can hear us.

Full many a blessing wears the guise 
Of worry or of trouble; 
Far-seeing is the soul, and wise, 
Who knows the mask is double. 
But he who has the faith and strength 
To thank his God for sorrow 
Has found a joy without alloy 
To gladden every morrow.

We ought to make the moments notes
Of happy, glad thanksgiving; 
The hours and days a silent phrase 
Of music we are living. 
And so the theme should swell and grow 
As weeks and months pass o’er us, 
And rise sublime at this good time, 
A grand thanksgiving chorus. —Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Poetry Saturday—Unanswered Prayers

Like some schoolmaster kind in being stern,
Who hears the children crying o’er their slates
And calling, “Help me, master!” yet helps not,
Since in his silence and refusal lies
Their self-development, so God abides
Unheeding many prayers. He is not deaf
To any cry sent up from earnest hearts;
He hears and strengthens when He must deny.
He sees as weeping o’er life’s hard sums;
But should He give the key and dry our tears,
What would it profit us when school were done
And not one lesson mastered?

     What a world
Were this if all our prayers were answered. Not
In famed Pandora’s box were such vast ills
As lie in human hearts. Should our desires,
Voiced one by one in prayer, ascend to God
And come back as events shaped to our wish,
What chaos would result!

     In my fierce youth
I sighed out breath enough to move a fleet,
Voicing wild prayers to heaven for fancied boons
Which were denied; and that denial bends
My knees to prayer of gratitude each day
Of my maturer years. Yet from those prayers
I rose always regirded for the strife
And conscious of new strength. Pray on, sad heart,
That which thou pleadest may not be given,
But in the lofty altitude where souls
Who supplicate God’s grace are lifted, there
Thou shalt find help to bear thy daily lot
Which is not elsewhere found. —Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Poetry Saturday—Smiles

Smile a little, smile a little, 
    As you go along, 
Not alone when life is pleasant, 
    But when things go wrong. 
Care delights to see you frowning, 
    Loves to hear you sigh; 
Turn a smiling face upon her, 
    Quick the dame will fly.

Smile a little, smile a little, 
    All along the road; 
Every life must have its burden, 
    Every heart its load. 
Why sit down in gloom and darkness, 
    With your grief to sup? 
As you drink Fate’s bitter tonic 
    Smile across the cup.

Smile upon the troubled pilgrims 
    Whom you pass and meet; 
Frowns are thorns, and smiles are blossoms 
    Oft for weary feet. 
Do not make the way seem harder 
    By a sullen face, 
Smile a little, smile a little, 
    Brighten up the place.

Smile upon your undone labor; 
    Not for one who grieves 
O’er his task, waits wealth or glory; 
    He who smiles achieves. 
Though you meet with loss and sorrow 
    In the passing years, 
Smile a little, smile a little, 
    Even through your tears. —Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Poetry Saturday—Christmas Fancies

When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow, 
We hear sweet voices ringing from lands of long ago, 
    And etched on vacant places 
    Are half forgotten faces 
Of friends we used to cherish, and loves we used to know— 
When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow.

Uprising from the ocean of the present surging near, 
We see, with strange emotion that is not free from fear, 
    That continent Elysian 
    Long vanished from our vision, 
Youth’s lovely lost Atlantis, so mourned for and so dear, 
Uprising from the ocean of the present surging near.

When gloomy gray Decembers are roused to Christmas mirth, 
The dullest life remembers there once was joy on earth, 
    And draws from youth’s recesses 
    Some memory it possesses, 
And, gazing through the lens of time, exaggerates its worth, 
When gloomy gray December is roused to Christmas mirth.

When hanging up the holly or mistletoe, I wis 
Each heart recalls some folly that lit the world with bliss. 
    Not all the seers and sages 
    With wisdom of the ages 
Can give the mind such pleasure as memories of that kiss 
When hanging up the holly or mistletoe, I wis.

For life was made for loving, and love alone repays, 
As passing years are proving, for all of Time’s sad ways. 
    There lies a sting in pleasure, 
    And fame gives shallow measure, 
And wealth is but a phantom that mocks the restless days, 
For life was made for loving, and only loving pays.

When Christmas bells are pelting the air with silver chimes, 
And silences are melting to soft, melodious rhymes, 
    Let Love, the world’s beginning, 
    End fear and hate and sinning; 
Let Love, the God Eternal, be worshiped in all climes 
When Christmas bells are pelting the air with silver chimes. —Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Poetry Saturday—Presumption

Whenever I am prone to doubt or wonder—
   I check myself, and say, “That mighty One
Who made to the solar system cannot blunder—
   And for the best all things are being done.”
Who sent the stars on their eternal courses
   Has fashioned this strange earth by some sure plan.
Bow low, bow low to those majestic forces,
   Nor dare to doubt their wisdom, puny man.

You cannot put one little star in motion,
   You cannot shape one single forest leaf,
Nor fling a mountain up, nor sink an ocean,
   Presumptuous pigmy, large with unbelief.
You cannot bring one dawn of regal splendor,
   Nor bid the day to shadowy twilight fall,
Nor send the pale moon fourth with radiance tender—
   And dare you doubt the One who has done it all?

“So much is wrong, there is such pain—such sinning.”
   Yet look again—behold how much is right!
And He who formed the world from its beginning
   Knows how to guide it upward to the light.
Your task, O man, is not to carp and cavil
   At God’s achievements, but with purpose strong
To cling to good, and turn away from evil.
   That is the way to help the world along. —Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Poetry Saturday—Plea To Science

Ella Wheeler WilcoxO Science, reaching backward through the distance,
   Most earnest child of God,
Exposing all the secrets of existence,
   With thy divining rod,
I bid thee speed up to the heights supernal,
   Clear thinker, ne’er sufficed;
Go seek and bind the laws and truths eternal,
   But leave me Christ.

Upon the vanity of pious sages
   Let in the light of day;
Breaking down the superstitions of all ages—
   Thrust bigotry away;
Stride on, and bid all stubborn foes defiance,
   Let Truth and Reason reign:
But I beseech the, O Immortal Science,
   Let Christ remain.

What canst thou give to help me bear my crosses,
   In place of Him, my Lord?
And what to recompense for all my losses,
   And bring me sweet reward?
Thou couldst not with thy clear, cold eyes of reason,
   Thou couldst not comfort me
Like One who passed through that tear-blotted season
   In sad Gethsemane!

Through all the weary, wearing hours of sorrow,
   What word that thou hast said
Would make me strong to wait for some tomorrow
   When I should find my dead?
When I am weak, and desolate, and lonely—
   And prone to follow wrong?
Not thou, O Science—Christ, my Savior, only
   Can make me strong.

Thou art so cold, so lofty, and so distant,
   Though great my need might be,
No prayer, however constant and persistent,
   Couldst bring thee down to me.
Christ stands so near, to help me through each hour,
   To guide me day by day
O Science, sweeping all before thy power—
   Leave Christ, I pray! —Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Poetry Saturday—Mission

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

If you are dreaming of a future goal,
   When, crowned with glory, men shall own your power,
Be careful that you let no struggling soul
   Go by unaided in the present hour.
If you are moved to pity for the earth,
   And long to aid it, do not look so high,
You pass some poor, dumb creature faint with thirst—
   All life is equal in the Eternal Eye.
If you would help to make the wrong things right,
   Begin at home: there lies a lifetime’s toil.
Weed your own garden fair for all men’s sight,
   Before you plan to till another’s soil.
God chooses His own leaders in the world,
   And from the rest He asks but willing hands.
As mighty mountains into place are hurled,
   While patient tides may only shape the sands. —Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Mission
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