The Meeting of the Centuries

From ImmortalPoetry
Jump to navigationJump to search

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox


   A curious vision on mine eyes unfurled
      In the deep night. I saw, or seemed to see,
      Two Centuries meet, and sit down vis-à-vis
   Across the great round table of the world:
   One with suggested sorrows in his mien,
      And on his brow the furrowed lines of thought;
      And one whose glad expectant presence brought
   A glow and radiance from the realms unseen.

   Hand clasped with hand, in silence for a space
      The Centuries sat; the sad old eyes of one
      (As grave paternal eyes regard a son)
   Gazing upon that other eager face.
   And then a voice, as cadenceless and gray
      As the sea’s monody in winter time,
      Mingled with tones melodious, as the chime
   Of bird choirs, singing in the dawns of May.

                           THE OLD CENTURY SPEAKS

   By you, Hope stands. With me, Experience walks.
   Like a fair jewel in a faded box,
   In my tear-rusted heart, sweet Pity lies.
   For all the dreams that look forth from your eyes,
   And those bright-hued ambitions, which I know
   Must fall like leaves and perish, in Time’s snow,
   (Even as my soul’s garden stands bereft,)
   I give you pity! ’tis the one gift left.

                               THE NEW CENTURY

   Nay, nay, good friend! not pity, but Godspeed,
   Here in the morning of my life I need.
   Counsel, and not condolence; smiles, not tears,
   To guide me through the channels of the years.
   Oh, I am blinded by the blaze of light
   That shines upon me from the Infinite.
   Blurred is my vision by the close approach
   To unseen shores, whereon the times encroach.

                               THE OLD CENTURY

   Illusion, all illusion. List and hear
   The Godless cannons, booming far and near.
   Flaunting the flag of Unbelief, with Greed
   For pilot, lo! the pirate age in speed
   Bears on to ruin. War’s most hideous crimes
   Besmirch the record of these modern times.
   Degenerate is the world I leave to you,—
   My happiest speech to earth will be—adieu.

                               THE NEW CENTURY

   You speak as one too weary to be just.
   I hear the guns—I see the greed and lust.
   The death throes of a giant evil fill
   The air with riot and confusion. Ill
   Ofttimes makes fallow ground for Good; and Wrong
   Builds Right’s foundation, when it grows too strong.
   Pregnant with promise is the hour, and grand
   The trust you leave in my all-willing hand.

                               THE OLD CENTURY

   As one who throws a flickering taper’s ray
   To light departing feet, my shadowed way
   You brighten with your faith. Faith makes the man
   Alas, that my poor foolish age outran
   Its early trust in God! The death of art
   And progress follows, when the world’s hard heart
   Casts out religion. ’Tis the human brain
   Men worship now, and heaven, to them, means—gain.

                               THE NEW CENTURY

   Faith is not dead, tho’ priest and creed may pass,
   For thought has leavened the whole unthinking mass,
   And man looks now to find the God within.
   We shall talk more of love, and less of sin,
   In this new era. We are drawing near
   Unatlassed boundaries of a larger sphere.
   With awe, I wait, till Science leads us on,
   Into the full effulgence of its dawn.

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Add your comment
ImmortalPoetry welcomes all comments. If you do not want to be anonymous, register or log in. It is free.