The House of Life

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All wondering, and eager-eyed, within her portico
I made my plea to Hostess Life, one morning long ago.

"Pray show me this great house of thine, nor close a single door;
But let me wander where I will, and climb from floor to floor!

For many rooms, and curious things, and treasures great and small
Within your spacious mansion lie, and I would see them all."

Then Hostess Life turned silently, her searching gaze on me,
And with no word, she reached her hand, and offered up the key.

It opened first the door of Hope, and long I lingered there,
Until I spied the room of Dreams, just higher by a stair.

And then a door whereon the one word "Happiness" was writ;
But when I tried the little key I could not make it fit.

It turned the lock of Pleasure's room, where first all seemed so bright -
But after I had stayed awhile it somehow lost its light.

And wandering down a lonely hall, I came upon a room
Marked "Duty," and I entered it--to lose myself in gloom.

Along the shadowy halls I groped my weary way about,
And found that from dull Duty's room, a door of Toil led out.

It led out to another door, whereon a crimson stain
Made sullenly against the dark these words: "The Room of Pain."

But oh the light, the light, the light, that spilled down from above
And upward wound, the stairs of Faith, right to the Tower of Love!

And when I came forth from that place, I tried the little key -
And lo! the door of Happiness swung open, wide and free.


by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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