What Gain?

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What Gain?
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
From Poems of Cheer (1910)


Now, while thy rounded cheek is fresh and fair,
   While beauty lingers, laughing, in thine eyes,
Ere thy young heart shall meet the stranger, "Care,"
   Or thy blithe soul become the home of sighs,
Were it not kindness should I give thee rest
By plunging this sharp dagger in thy breast?
Dying so young, with all thy wealth of youth,
What part of life wouldst thou not claim, in sooth?
         Only the woe,
      Sweetheart, that sad souls know.

Now, in this sacred hour of supreme trust,
   Of pure delight and palpitating joy,
Ere change can come, as come it surely must,
   With jarring doubts and discords, to destroy
Our far too perfect peace, I pray thee, Sweet,
Were it not best for both of us, and meet,
If I should bring swift death to seal our bliss?
Dying so full of joy, what could we miss?
         Nothing but tears,
      Sweetheart, and weary years.

How slight the action! Just one well-aimed blow
   Here, where I feel thy warm heart's pulsing beat,
And then another through my own, and so
   Our perfect union would be made complete:
So, past all parting, I should claim thee mine.
Dead with our youth, and faith, and love divine,
Should we not keep the best of life that way?
What shall we gain by living day on day?
         What shall we gain,
      Sweetheart, but bitter pain?

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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