A Wish

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by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Great dignity ever attends great grief,
And silently walks beside it;
And I always know when I see such woe
That Invisible Helpers guide it.
And I know deep sorrow is like a tide,
It cannot ever be flowing;
The high-water mark in the night and the dark -
Then dawn, and the outward going.

But the people who pull at my heart-strings hard
Are the ones whom destiny hurries
Through commonplace ways to the end of their days,
And pesters with paltry worries.
The peddlers who trudge with a budget of wares
To the door that is slammed unkindly;
The vendor who stands with his shop in his hands
Where the hastening hosts pass blindly;

The woman who holds in her poor flat purse
The price of her rent-room only,
While her starved eye feeds on the comfort she needs
To brighten the lot that is lonely;
The man in the desert of endless work,
Unsoftened by islands of leisure;
And the children who toil in the dust and the soil,
While their little hearts cry for pleasure;

The people who labour, and scrimp, and save,
At the call of some thankless duty,
And carefully hide, with a mien of pride,
Their ravening hunger for beauty;
These ask no pity, and seek no aid,
But the thought of them somehow is haunting;
And I wish I might fling at their feet everything
That I know in their hearts they are wanting.

from Poems of Optimism by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1919)

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