Time’s Gaze

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by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

   Time looked me in the eyes while passing by
   The milestone of the year. That piercing gaze
   Was both an accusation and reproach.
   No speech was needed. In a sorrowing look
   More meaning lies than in complaining words,
   And silence hurts as keenly as reproof.

   Oh, opulent, kind giver of rich hours,
   How have I used thy benefits! As babes
   Unstring a necklace, laughing at the sound
   Of priceless jewels dropping one by one,
   So have I laughed while precious moments rolled
   Into the hidden corners of the past.
   And I have let large opportunities
   For high endeavour move unheeded by,
   While little joys and cares absorbed my strength.

   And yet, dear Time, set to my credit this:
   _Not one white hour have I made black with hate_,
   _Nor wished one living creature aught but good_.

   Be patient with me. Though the sun slants west,
   The day has not yet finished, and I feel
   Necessity for action and resolve
   Bear in upon my consciousness. I know
   The earth’s eternal need of earnest souls,
   And the great hunger of the world for Love.
   I know the goal to high achievement lies
   Through the dull pathway of self-conquest first;
   And on the stairs of little duties done
   We climb to joys that stand thy test. O Time,
   Be patient with me, and another day,
   Perchance, in passing by, thine eyes may smile.


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