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by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

   Hers was a lonely, shadowed lot;
   Or so the unperceiving thought,
   Who looked no deeper than her face,
   Devoid of chiselled lines of grace—
   No farther than her humble grate,
   And wondered how she bore her fate.

   Yet she was neither lone nor sad;
   So much of love her spirit had,
   She found an ever-flowing spring
   Of happiness in everything.

   So near to her was Nature’s heart
   It seemed a very living part
   Of her own self; and bud and blade,
   And heat and cold, and sun and shade,
   And dawn and sunset, Spring and Fall,
   Held raptures for her, one and all.

   The year’s four changing seasons brought
   To her own door what thousands sought
   In wandering ways and did not find—
   Diversion and content of mind.

   She loved the tasks that filled each day—
   Such menial duties; but her way
   Of looking at them lent a grace
   To things the world deemed commonplace.

   Obscure and without place or name,
   She gloried in another’s fame.
   Poor, plain and humble in her dress,
   She thrilled when beauty and success
   And wealth passed by, on pleasure bent;
   They made earth seem so opulent.
   Yet none of quicker sympathy,
   When need or sorrow came, than she.
   And so she lived, and so she died.

   She woke as from a dream. How wide
   And wonderful the avenue
   That stretched to her astonished view!
   And up the green ascending lawn
   A palace caught the rays of dawn.

   Then suddenly the silence stirred
   With one clear keynote of a bird;
   A thousand answered, till ere long
   The air was quivering bits of song.
   She rose and wandered forth in awe,
   Amazed and moved by all she saw,
   For, like so many souls who go
   Away from earth, she did not know
   The cord was severed.

            Down the street,
   With eager arms stretched forth to greet,
   Came one she loved and mourned in youth;
   Her mother followed; then the truth
   Broke on her, golden wave on wave,
   Of knowledge infinite. The grave,
   The body and the earthly sphere
   Were gone! Immortal life was here!
   They led her through the Palace halls;
   From gleaming mirrors on the walls
   She saw herself, with radiant mien,
   And robed in splendour like a queen,
   While glory round about her shone.
   ‘All this,’ Love murmured, ‘is your own.’

   And when she gazed with wondering eye,
   And questioned whence and where and why,
   Love answered thus: ‘All Heaven is made
   By thoughts on earth; your walls were laid,
   Year after year, of purest gold;
   The beauty of your mind behold
   In this fair palace; ay, and more
   Waits farther on, so vast your store.
   I was not worthy when I died
   To take my place here at your side;
   I toiled through long and weary years
   From lower planes to these high spheres;
   And through the love you sent from earth
   I have attained a second birth.
   Oft when my erring soul would tire
   I felt the strength of your desire;
   I heard you breathe my name in prayer,
   And courage conquered weak despair.
   Ah! earth needs heaven, but heaven indeed
   Of earth has just as great a need.’

   Across the terrace with a bound
   There sped a lambkin and a hound
   (Dumb comrades of the old earth land)
   And fondled her caressing hand.

   Was answered to her questioning eyes;
   ‘You taught them love; love has no end!
   Nor does love’s life on form depend.
   If there be mortal without love,
   He wakes to no new life above.
   If love in humbler things exist,
   It must through other realms persist
   Until all love rays merge in HIM.
   Hark! Hear the heavenly Cherubim!’

   Then hushed and awed, with joy so vast
   It knew no future and no past,
   She stood amidst the radiant throng
   That came to swell love’s welcoming song—
   This humble soul from earth’s far coast
   The centre of the heavenly host.

   On earth they see her grave and say:
   ‘She lies there till the judgment day;’
   Nor dream, so limited their thought,
   What miracles by love are wrought.

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